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Women join ranks of Assad’s new paramilitary force in Syria

At 40 years of age, Abir Ramadan joined the all-female unit of Syria’s new paramilitary force, pledging loyalty to Bashar al-Assad in the armed struggle against those seeking to topple the president. Dressed in camouflage, she marches at a stadium in the central city of Homs, raising her fist and…

Drinking water restored to Chilean capital after 24-hour outage

Water has been restored in Chile’s capital Santiago after a 24-hour pollution-related outage that affected more than two million people, the water utility said Wednesday. The cut-off in the supply of drinking water to more than 593,000 homes from early Tuesday was linked to contamination in a key river that…

Traditional wrestling loses its grip on Pakistan

For decades, their practice ring honed the talent of Pakistan’s most famous wrestling family. Today, it is their graveyard, a fitting symbol of the decline of the sport in the Muslim nation. The Bholu brothers are buried next to a centuries-old Banyan tree to the side of their former ring.…

Russian refugees return to Moscow after fleeing Syria

Dozens of Russians fleeing the violence in Syria arrived back in Moscow on Wednesday, in the first operation organised by the Russian authorities to help its nationals escape. Two planes owned by the emergencies ministry carrying 77 people fleeing Syria touched down at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on a flight from…

Thai activist jailed for 11 years for ‘royal slurs’

A Thai political activist was jailed for 11 years Wednesday in the latest tough sentence under the kingdom’s controversial royal defamation law, to the dismay of human rights defenders. The European Union said it was “deeply concerned” by the punishment imposed on Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, 51, in connection with two articles…

Netanyahu wins narrow victory in Israeli elections

Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud-Beitenu list won a narrow victory in legislative elections but was weakened by the unexpectedly strong showing by the centrist Yesh Atid, which campaigned on economic issues. The result is likely to cramp Netanyahu’s room for manoeuvre vis-a-vis his future coalition partners. Television exit polls showed Netanyahu’s…

Israel’s Netanyahu faces coalition challenge

Israel’s rightwing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who narrowly won Tuesday’s election ahead of a new centrist party, now has the complicated task of forming a new coalition government. Despised by much of the local media, and the target of jabs by foreign leaders, the 63-year-old Netanyahu was riding high in…

Taliban retaliates after Prince Harry compares fighting to video games

Afghan militants scornful of Queen’s grandson, saying helicopter co-pilot ‘doesn’t have the brain to know there is a war here’ Prince Harry’s remarks that his job as a co-pilot in an Apache attack helicopter required him to “take a life to save a life” may have disconcerted some squeamish westerners.…

2 million without drinking water as Chilean capital officials turn off supply

More than two million people in the Chilean capital were without drinking water Tuesday because of contamination in a river that supplies the city with water, officials said. Water was shut down to more than 593,000 homes in the metropolitan area, beginning early Tuesday until at least midnight, forcing the…

Chad officials: No link between meningitis vaccines and sick children

Chad’s government on Tuesday said a team of international experts have not been able to find any links between the hospitalisation of 38 children and their recent vaccinations against meningitis. The children fell ill in the northern village of Gouro and were admitted to hospital after being vaccinated in a…

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