BEIRUT

Syrian army, rebels battle to control airport, killing 150

Intense clashes between the Syrian army and rebel fighters near the country’s second-largest airport killed about 150 people in recent days, anti-regime activists said Friday, pointing to the significance both sides in the civil war place on controlling key infrastructure.

The battle for the international airport near Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, resembles other battles over strategic assets that could provide an edge in the larger fight for the country.

This week, rebels seized a hydroelectric dam and a major oil field, cutting off President Bashar Assad’s regime from key resources necessary for its long-term survival. On Friday, activists reported that rebels seized an air defense base and fought near two other army installations in Syria’s north.

CAIRO

Islamists, liberals stage rallies, showing wide divide

Several thousand hard-line Islamists rallied in Cairo on Friday against a recent wave of violent anti-government protests, while liberal activists staged a smaller demonstration across town to call for accountability and justice from the country’s leaders.

The parallel rallies mirror the deep divisions that have plagued Egypt in the two years since longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, leaving the country’s politics polarized, its people frustrated and its economy battered by the continuous turmoil.

Activists of the Free Front for Peaceful Change say one of their members, Ibrahim Hanafi, was abducted by three men in a white microbus who poured boiling water on his back before dumping him on the side of the road.

Brotherhood spokesmen could not be reached for comment.

MEXICO CITY

Bird flu outbreak affects more than 582,000 chickens

Mexico’s animal health agency says a bird flu outbreak at seven farms in central Mexico has affected as many as 582,000 chickens.

The Agriculture Department says more than half a million birds were exposed, but the number that will have to be slaughtered has yet to be determined.

An outbreak of the H7N3 bird flu virus in Mexico in 2012 led to the slaughter of more than 22 million hens and caused price increases in chicken and egg products.

The department said Friday that the current outbreak has not affected the supply of chicken products.

It said tests were continuing to determine the exact strain of virus involved in the outbreak, but said it did not affect humans.

– From news service reports