World briefs: Syrian regime takes rebel town

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BEIRUT -- After weeks of fighting, the Syrian military has wrested control of a rebel-held town near the Lebanese border in the strategic province of Homs, military and opposition representatives said Saturday.

The seizure of Zara, close to the main highway linking Homs city to the Mediterranean coast, is the latest reported government advance in its effort to seal the porous border with Lebanon, long a conduit for antigovernment fighters and arms.

Zara, along with several other towns and the historic Crusader castle of the Krak des Chevaliers, has formed the last remaining rebel-held patch of western Homs province.

Chinese warn neighbors

BEIJING -- The Chinese foreign minister took a strong stand Saturday on China's growing territorial disputes with neighboring nations, saying "there is no room for compromise" with Japan, and that China would "never accept unreasonable demands from smaller countries," an apparent reference to Southeast Asian nations.

The foreign minister, Wang Yi, a former ambassador to Japan, made his comments at a news conference on the fourth day of the National People's Congress, an annual meeting of China's rubber-stamp legislature.

Mr. Wang stressed several times that China was committed to regional peace.

But Mr. Wang did not mince words on the subject of Japan and its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who has angered Chinese leaders with recent public remarks on China-Japan relations and with a visit in December to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, where Japanese war dead are honored, including 14 Class A war criminals. In the East China Sea, China refuses to accept Japan's administration of, or its claims to, islands that Japan calls the Senkaku and China calls the Diaoyu.

Militia tries to export oil

TRIPOLI, Libya -- The spokesman for Libya's national oil company says militias in control of ports in the country's east are attempting to export oil independently with a North Korea-flagged tanker.

Mohammed al-Harari said Saturday the vessel docked at al-Sidra could carry up to 350,000 barrels of oil. An oil company official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said armed gunmen forced workers loyal to the government to dock the ship.

The spokesman for the militia, Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, said his group would respond to any attempt to stop the shipment. The militia has been demanding autonomy and a share of oil revenues, and has formed a shadow government.

Libya's oil exports have dropped drastically after the militia took control.

Assange hints of data dump

AUSTIN, Texas -- Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who has disclosed scores of classified data about U.S. military and diplomatic efforts, said the group would be releasing a new batch of secret information.

Mr. Assange, speaking through a video feed Saturday to a crowd of more than 3,000 people at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, said he wouldn't share details about the timing or contents of the data because he doesn't want to give the subjects a chance to prepare a response.

Mr. Assange is one of several speakers at the conference who is focused on Internet privacy and online security. After years of being an event for celebrating startups with new social- networking tools for posting personal information, South by Southwest this year is taking a more critical look at the privacy consequences of sharing that data. Edward Snowden, the government contractor who leaked documents disclosing spying by the National Security Agency, speaks on March 10 through a video link.

Generic drug recalled

MUMBAI, India -- Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., India's largest drugmaker, has recalled two batches of the company's generic version of Pfizer Inc.'s cholesterol-lowering medicine Lipitor after a dose mix-up was detected.

Ranbaxy, a unit of Tokyo-based Daiichi Sankyo Co., is pulling back pills in 64,626 bottles of atorvastatin calcium in the U.S. after a "product complaint" was received by a pharmacist, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on its website. The pharmacist had discovered a 20 milligram tablet in a sealed bottle marked for 10 milligram pills, the FDA said.

Pakistani deaths investigated

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistani officials say authorities are investigating whether malnutrition is responsible for the deaths of nearly two dozen children in the country's drought-hit desert south.

Kamran Zia, the chief spokesman for National Disaster Management Authority, said Saturday as many as 23 children have died in the villages of Tharparkar desert in the southern Sindh province since February. He said it was unclear whether the children died from a shortage of food or medical problems.


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