Nation & World briefs, June 13
Syrian rebels kill 60 in village attack
Syrian rebels, including Sunni extremists, stormed a village and battled pro-regime militiamen, killing more than 60 Shiite fighters and civilians in an attack steeped in the sectarian hatreds that increasingly characterize the civil war, activists said yesterday.
In the raid, which comes at a time when the West is worried that extremists are increasingly joining the rebellion, the victorious fighters raised black Sunni Islamist flags over the eastern village of Hatla. In amateur videos, the fighters – some wearing al-Qaida-style headbands – vented anti-Shiite slurs and fired in the air.
Man pleads not guilty in kidnapping case
A man accused of holding three women captive in his home for about a decade pleaded not guilty yesterday to hundreds of rape and kidnapping charges, and the defense hinted at avoiding a trial with a plea deal if the death penalty were ruled out.
The death penalty is in play because among the accusations facing Ariel Castro, 52, is that he forced a miscarriage by one of the women, which is considered a killing under Ohio law. That charge doesn’t include a possible death penalty, but a prosecutor has said that’s under review.
The women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each said they had accepted a ride from Castro, who remained friends with the family of one girl and even attended vigils over the years marking her disappearance.
Official: Forces never told to stand down
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday that four members of Army special forces in Tripoli were never told to stand down after last year’s deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, disputing a former top diplomat’s claim that the unit might have helped Americans under siege.
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said timing and the need for the unit to help with casualties from Benghazi resulted in orders for the special forces to remain in Tripoli. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, died in two separate attacks several hours apart the night of Sept. 11.
Gregory Hicks, a former diplomat in Tripoli at the time of the attack, told a House panel last month that the unit was told to stand down.
Dempsey said that was not the case.
The Associated Press