WASHINGTON

Panda cub Bao Bao meets media, prepares for debut

Bao Bao, the giant panda cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, is getting used to seeing fans outside her enclosure as she prepares for her public debut this month.

Bao Bao had a tryout Monday in front of the media. After waking up in her exhibit around 8 a.m., she spent the morning crawling, climbing, following mother Mei Xiang and poking her head over rocks to a chorus of camera clicks.

Bao Bao will make her public debut Jan. 18 and may be visible inside or outside, depending on the weather and her mother’s choices for any given day.

BERLIN

German Chancellor Merkel injured in skiing accident

German Chancellor Angela Merkel cracked her pelvis during a skiing accident in the Swiss Alps and will have to cut back on her work schedule for the next three weeks, her spokesman said Monday.

BAGHDAD

Prime minister urges people of Fallujah to expel al-Qaida

Iraq’s prime minister urged Fallujah residents on Monday to expel al-Qaida militants to avoid an all-out battle in the besieged city, a sign that the government could be paving the way for an imminent military push in an attempt to rout hard-line Sunni insurgents challenging its territorial control over the western approaches to Baghdad.

The militants’ seizure of Fallujah and parts of nearby Ramadi, once bloody battlegrounds for U.S. troops, has marked the most direct challenge to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government since the departure of American forces two years ago. Both the U.S. and its longtime rival Iran view the escalating conflict with alarm, with neither wanting to see al-Qaida take firmer root inside Iraq.

BEIRUT

Rival rebels’ clashes spread to northern city of Raqqa

Syrian rebels surrounded a compound held by al-Qaida-linked fighters and freed at least 50 people from a nearby prison Monday as clashes between rival factions in the country’s northern provinces spread to the largest city controlled by the opposition.

The rebel-on-rebel fighting in Raqqa – a stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – reflects a widening war within a war in Syria, this one against radical extremists. It also adds yet another layer of complexity to the broader Syrian conflict less than three weeks ahead of a planned international peace conference to broker a solution to the civil conflict.