Jisr al-Shughour is 12 miles from Syria’s border with Turkey. An estimated 1,800 people have crossed over to escape the clashes between opposition groups and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The showdown in Jisr al-Shughour is seen by some as a test of the government’s control over the region. In an almost three-month old period of upheaval, human rights groups say 1,300 people have died in the fighting.
Libya ‘Contact Group’ of Western, Arab Nations Meets in UAE
Diplomats from Western and Arab nations are set to meet Thursday in Abu Dhabi to discuss next steps in the international coalition effort to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, as well as financial aid for rebels. NATO has in recent days intensified its air campaign, with new strikes on the capital, Tripoli.
Representatives from the United States — including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — Britain, France, Jordan, Kuwait and Qatar are also expected to discuss options for a post-Gadhafi government and a replacement political process.
Meantime, the U.N. Human Rights Council released a report investigating “actions by all parties that might have constituted human rights violations” in Libya. The report contains reports of attacks of civilian, killings and torture.
CitiGroup: Hackers Accessed Customers’ Credit Card Information
CitiGroup said Thursday that an estimated 200,000 accounts were affected by a security breach in which hackers viewed the information of about 1 percent of customers in their system. The hackers were able to view customers’ credit card numbers and contact information, but the company says Social Security numbers and birth dates were not accessed.
Sean Kevelighan, a CitiGroup spokesman, said in an email that they “are contacting customers whose information was impacted. Citi has implemented enhanced procedures to prevent a recurrence of this type of event.”
U.S. Reportedly Expanding Covert Operations in Yemen
As clashes in Yemen between opposition groups, tribal fighters and government forces have grown more intense in recent weeks, the United States has targeted suspected militants in the country with drones and other covert strikes, according to the New York Times. The government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is in Saudi Arabia for treatment of injuries sustained in an attack on his compound, has cooperated with U.S. officials in combating extremists within the country, particularly an offshoot known as al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. According to the Times:
Yemeni troops that had been battling militants linked to Al Qaeda in the south have been pulled back to the capital, and American officials see the strikes as one of the few options to keep the militants from consolidating power.
The strikes reportedly resumed after a yearlong hiatus. Yemen’s central government has been plagued by extremist groups and separatists, making the turmoil especially uncertain as rival interests compete for power in an increasingly chaotic landscape.
Slowing Winds Favor Firefighters in Arizona Wildfires
After a 10-day battle with wildfires that have scorched 389,000 acres and forced thousands of residents to evacuate, firefighters are hoping slower winds will afford them some advantages in fighting the blazes Thursday. Winds between 20-40 mph accompanied by dry weather have helped the fires spread rapidly. Eleven buildings have been destroyed and hundreds more are in danger.
The fires are considered 0 percent contained and have raised alerts in neighboring New Mexico. Smoke and ash from the fires could also spread well beyond the area affected by the fires. Officials believe they may have been originally started by a campfire that spread out of control.