Mix of soldiers, protesters, defy government troops

Syrian troops fought Friday with hundreds of fellow soldiers who have turned their weapons against President Bashar Assad’s regime, revealing the increasingly militarized nature of an uprising started months ago by peaceful protesters.

Across the country, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets as they do each Friday, braving gunfire by government forces who have waged a relentless crackdown. At least 11 protesters were killed, human rights groups said.

Opposition activists and the government confirmed a fourth straight day of battles in Rastan, just north of the central city of Homs.


Thousands in Tahrir Square make demands of council

Thousands of protesters once again gathered in Tahrir Square on Friday to voice their exasperation at the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces.

The military, which has run Egypt since the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, has faced heavy criticism from political movements for failing to quickly transfer power to a civilian authority.

Protesters and political groups called for an end to emergency laws, amendments to the new elections law and a clear timeline for drafting a new constitution and setting a date for presidential elections.


Lawmakers vote to hike bailout fund contribution

Austrian lawmakers have voted to expand the powers of the eurozone’s bailout fund, designed to help Greece and other potentially struggling countries deal with their debts.

Friday’s passage means that Austria guarantees to provide $29.4 billion to the fund, compared to $16.4 billion previously.

If all 17 eurozone nations agree to increase their share, the fund will have $600 billion at its disposal.

Austria’s endorsement comes a day after German parliamentarians approved beefing up the so-called European Financial Stability Facility.