World Briefs: Islamic State thwarts Assad

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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.

Controversial statue

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



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