ISTANBUL — Syrian government troops failed on two fronts Monday to reverse gains by fighters loyal to the Islamic State, a sign that the insurgents who have captured half of Iraq are capable of battling Syria’s government as well.
Anti-government activists said 14 government troops were killed in battles for two villages outside the east Syrian city of Deir el Zour.
The Syrian army fared no better in an attempt to recapture the Shaer gas field near in the ancient city of Palmyra, losing six soldiers and failing to dislodge the Islamic State fighters.
The clash in Deir el Zour was the latest sign that the Islamic State, which had frontally attacked the regime only once before — in the desert near Homs — is prepared to fight it as the opportunity arises.
A member of the Islamist movement told McClatchy that it intends to remove the regime of President Bashar Assad from Deir el Zour province altogether.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Prime Minister Viktor Orban won’t dedicate a disputed memorial he ordered to mark the Nazi invasion of Hungary after critics said the statue attempts to whitewash the country’s responsibility for the Holocaust, the prime minister’s office told reporters Monday.
The bronze statue, depicting Nazi-ally Hungary as the Archangel Gabriel being swept down on by an imperial eagle representing Germany, was erected over the weekend after being brought to a square in downtown Budapest at night. Demonstrators have held protests for more than 100 days at the site.
About 500,000 Hungarians, mostly Jews, were killed, according to the Budapest-based Holocaust Memorial Center.
Rhino move considered
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa, home to 80 percent of the world’s rhinos, is considering moving some of the animals out of Kruger National Park, its biggest game reserve, to keep poachers at bay, SANParks, which runs Kruger, said Monday.
Poachers have killed 351 rhinos in Kruger this year to July 10, equivalent to almost two a day, according to the country’s Department of Environmental Affairs
The number of rhinos poached across South Africa so far this year has risen to 558 compared with 1,004 during all of last year and six in 2000.
China food scandal
SHANGHAI — Yum Brands Inc and McDonald's Corp are facing a new food safety scare in China, denting the fast-food companies’ efforts to shore up reputations and businesses that were hurt by a 2012 safety scandal in one of their biggest markets.
McDonald's and KFC parent Yum apologized to customers on Monday after Chinese regulators shut a local meat supplier following a TV report that showed workers picking up meat from a factory floor, as well as mixing meat beyond its expiration date with fresh meat.
Shiny, happy people
BEIJING — In recent days, Free Tibet, an advocacy group based in London, has identified nearly 100 similar sham accounts whose sole purpose appears to be disseminating upbeat news and treacly stories about Tibet and Xinjiang, the region in far-western China whose native Uighurs, like the Tibetans, have bridled under Beijing’s heavy-handed rule.
Although there is no direct evidence to link the Chinese government to the phony accounts, the content and breadth of the effort would suggest the involvement of a state actor.
— Compiled from news services