World news briefs: 7/20/14

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Russia bars 13 Americans

MOSCOW -- Russia announced Saturday that it is barring 13 Americans from entering the country, including Rep. James Moran, D-Va., just as Washington has blocked access for 13 Russian and Crimean officials in recent months.

The Foreign Ministry also repeated its pledge to counter the most recent round of U.S. economic sanctions with "response measures" of its own.

The Obama administration on Wednesday announced tough new measures targeting major Russian banks and energy companies, a significant swath of the Russian defense industry and individuals that it said was responsible for the continuing support of separatists battling government forces in eastern Ukraine.

The sanctions came before the downing of a civilian Malaysian Airlines jet over rebel-held Ukrainian airspace on Thursday.

Syria in gas field fight

ISTANBUL -- The Syrian military and the Islamic State engaged in fierce battle Saturday as the government tried unsuccessfully to dislodge the radical Islamists from a gas field seized two days earlier in an attack marked by the executions of 200 soldiers, sources close to the scene said.

Using 23-mm heavy machine guns, forces of the Islamic State were able to chase government aircraft away from the Sha'er gas field in the Syrian desert east of Homs, anti-government activist Bybars Tillawi said via Skype. At least 20 government soldiers were killed, he said.

Bombings, Jordan tiff

BAGHDAD -- Five bombs exploded in the Iraqi capital Saturday, killing 30 people, as tensions continued between Baghdad and Jordan, signaling the inexorable spillover of Iraq's troubles to the region.

The dispute between the two nations centered on a meeting held in Amman, the Jordanian capital, on Wednesday evening by 11 Iraqi Sunni groups, including some that are actively fighting the Iraqi government.

The Jordanian government was not involved in the meeting, but after the groups put out a strident statement asking other nations not to side with the Iraqi government in its conflict with Sunni militants, the Iraqis were angry that Jordan had allowed the meeting to take place. Iraq recalled its ambassador and the Jordanians apologized Friday, but Iraqi Parliament members are accusing Jordan of knowing the groups were there and not arresting them.

21 border guards killed

CAIRO -- Gunmen killed 21 Egyptian military border guards Saturday near the frontier with Libya, highlighting a growing threat from an area that security officials say has become a haven for militants seeking to topple the Cairo government.

Security officials said the assailants were smugglers. But an army spokesman said on his Facebook page that "terrorists" -- the term authorities use to describe Islamist militants -- were behind the attack.

Also in the world ...

Unidentified assailants killed at least seven people, including two security personnel, in an attack on a bus on Kenya's coast that brings the death toll in the region over the past month to 94, the Kenya Red Cross said. ... A U.S. drone fired several missiles at a sprawling compound in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Saturday, killing 11 militants, two Pakistani intelligence officials said. ... A super typhoon has killed at least 14 people in China since making landfall Friday afternoon, state media said Saturday, after hitting parts of the Philippines and leaving 77 dead.

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