BEIRUT

Airport halts flights as rebels, troops clash in fierce fighting

Clashes between government troops and rebels on Tuesday forced the international airport in Aleppo to stop all flights in and out of Syria’s largest city, while fierce battles also raged in the suburbs of the capital Damascus.

The rebels have been making inroad in the civil war recently, capturing a string of military bases and posing a stiff challenge to the regime in Syria’s two major cities – Damascus and Aleppo.

The opposition trying to overthrow authoritarian President Bashar Assad has been fighting for control of Aleppo since the summer, and they have captured large swathes of territory in Aleppo province west and north of the city up to the Turkish border.

TAMOUN, West Bank

Arrests by undercover Israeli soldiers spark rare clashes

An arrest raid by undercover Israeli soldiers disguised as vegetable vendors ignited rare clashes in the northern West Bank on Tuesday, residents said, leaving at least 10 Palestinians wounded.

Israeli army raids into Palestinian areas to seize activists and militants are fairly common. The raids are normally coordinated with Palestinian security forces, and suspects are usually apprehended without violence.

The clashes began early Tuesday after Israeli forces disguised as merchants in a vegetable truck arrested one man. Regular army forces then entered the town, prompting youths to hurl rocks to try to prevent more arrests.

PARIS

New approach doesn’t affect number of traditional car fires

Hundreds of empty, parked cars go up in flames in France each New Year’s Eve, set afire by young revelers, a much lamented tradition that remained intact this year with 1,193 vehicles burned, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday.

His announcement was the first time in three years that such figures have been released. The conservative government of former President Nicolas Sarkozy had decided to stop publishing them in a bid to reduce the crime – and not play into the hands of car-torching youths who try to outdo each other.

France’s current Socialist government decided otherwise, deeming total transparency the best method, and the rate of burned cars apparently remained steady.