World Briefs: U.N. finds brutality, depravity on all sides in Syrian carnage

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GENEVA — Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces have used chemical agents — most likely chlorine — in at least eight attacks this year and systematically committed massacres and other war crimes, while the Islamic State has perpetrated attacks on civilians that amount to crimes against humanity, a U.N. report said Wednesday.

The report issued by the U.N. Human Rights Council represented the latest measure of the brutality, depravity and carnage of Syria’s more than three-year civil war.

It also delivered a stinging rebuke to the United States and other powers for giving up on trying to forge a negotiated resolution to the conflict that has claimed an estimated 191,000 lives.

“Influential states have turned away from the difficult work required for a political solution,” said the report. “Recent events emphasize the urgency of finding a political settlement to the war.”

Afghan election recount

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Obama administration’s effort to ensure a smooth transfer of power in Afghanistan appeared to be unraveling Wednesday as the second-place candidate in a disputed presidential runoff announced a boycott of an ongoing recount.

Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, pulled his observers from the recount over what his advisers described as an illegitimate audit process that has failed to uncover hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots.

Ebola outbreak

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — A third top doctor has died from Ebola in Sierra Leone, a government official said Wednesday, as Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that the outbreak sweeping West Africa would get worse.

The disease has already killed more than 1,400 people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Study abroad programs

Many study abroad programs in the Middle East and other hot spots around the world have been curtailed or postponed as the number of countries on the State Department’s travel warning list has grown to three dozen.

On July 21, Israel was added to the State Department’s list of countries that it strongly advises citizens to consider not traveling to, prompting several American schools to suspend programming there.

IMF chief investigated

WASHINGTON — Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, said Wednesday that she has been placed under official investigation for negligence in a long-running French corruption probe dating to her days as the country’s finance minister.

The investigation stems from her oversight as finance minister of a 2008 dispute that ultimately produced multimillion-dollar payouts by an arbitration panel to a French business tycoon, Bernard Tapie, a friend of then-President Nicolas Sarkozy.

U.S. Border Patrol sued

NEUVO LAREDO, Mexico — Relatives of a Mexican man they said was shot dead by U.S. agents on the Mexican side of the border in 2012 filed a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking $40 million damages from the United States for what the family claims was an excessive and illegal use of force.

Guillermo Arevalo Pedraza was shot from a Border Patrol boat on the Rio Grande River while his family was having a picnic on the Mexican side near Nuevo Laredo, the suit said. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas.

The Border Patrol had no comment.


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