World Bulletin / News Desk
Syrian government forces shelled the eastern suburbs of Damascus on Monday and clashed with armed rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, activists and residents said.
Residents reported hearing heavy gunfire from around 6 a.m. (11 p.m. EDT on Sunday). They said the capital was shaken by several loud blasts, possibly artillery fire, two hours later.
"Every one of them feels like an earthquake," a resident in the central district of Adawi told Reuters in a telephone call punctuated by two loud explosions.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Assad's forces were targeting rural areas around the Zamalka and Ain Terma suburbs on the eastern fringes of Damascus, a rebel stronghold in recent months.
It said Monday's army offensive came after Assad's forces suffered heavy losses in the area on Sunday, when several military checkpoints came under attack.
The Observatory says more than 30,000 people, including 7,000 soldiers and members of the security forces, have been killed in Syria since the start of the uprising against Assad in March last year.
The army repelled a July rebel offensive in Damascus but Assad's opponents are still present in outlying areas of the capital. Rebels also launched coordinated attacks on the army last week in Aleppo, trying to break a two-month military stalemate in Syria's biggest city.
Moscow, which denies its troops have a role in the takeover of Crimea, says people there - a small majority of whom are ethnic Russians - should have the right to secede
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to London to meet with his Russian, as Putin and French President Francois Hollande discussed "possibilities for stepping up international support" for a solution
"Syria is now the biggest humanitarian and peace and security crisis facing the world, with violence reaching unthinkable levels," Ban's press office said
In an interview with the France 24 news channel, Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki accused Saudi and Qatar of sponsoring terrorism in his country.
The building is reported to have had gas smells emanating from it for weeks.
His address to the Knesset was staunchly pro-Israeli, and he delighted his hosts by claiming Jewish ancestral roots and talking tough on Iran
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has said Russia is to build two new nuclear power plants in the country.
The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels have been involved in nearly two decades of conflict that spilled into eastern Congo
Egyptian authorities have tightened their control over the border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip since last July's ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the Egyptian army.
Edward Dolinsky, head of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, made a lobbying trip to Jerusalem but not received by officials from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
"Jordan did not bow to these demands because the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) itself has not adopted a unified position on the need to isolate Qatar over its foreign policies," the lawmaker said on condition of anonymity.
Mustafa Jemilev became the first Crimean Tatar leader to meet with a Russian leader in 200 years. The meeting lasted half an hour, after which Jemilev revealed that the two sides had agreed to continue talks.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said "With Chancellor Merkel we both believe that signing of the association agreement with Ukraine as soon as possible would be beneficial"
Belarus would ask Russia to send "no more than 12 to 15 planes", indicating that the request had been made under a clause of a "union treaty"
Police stopped protesters from the RCD and MSP who were showing red signs with the word 'Boycott', saying their demonstration was illegal
The one-day meeting appeared to mirror a series of "Friends of Syria" conferences in which Western and Arab nations pledged political and financial support for the rebels