Syrian soldiers seize rebel stronghold

Syrian soldiers backed by tanks seized the eastern city of Deir el-Zour from rebels on Tuesday, the latest opposition stronghold to fall to an offensive by the better equipped Syrian military.

Activist Osama Mansour said government troops and armored cars entered the city about 60 miles from the Iraqi border from four sides, sparking short gunbattles with fighters from the Free Syrian Army.

Mansour, reached by telephone in Deir el-Zour, said the rebels quit fighting and took shelter in homes and apartments, fearing that protracted clashes would destroy the city.

Taking back rebel-held cities in the past weeks, government troops have often heavily shelled neighborhoods before sending in troops, killing civilians and damaging buildings.


Lawyer for Afghan massacre suspect questions evidence

The lawyer for the Army staff sergeant suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians questioned Tuesday the quality of the evidence against his client and said he planned to travel to Afghanistan to gather his own.

John Henry Browne said he met with Robert Bales for 11 hours over two days at Fort Leavenworth, where his client is being held. He added that there was still a lot he didn’t know about the March 11 shootings.

“I don’t know about the evidence in this case. I don’t know that the government is going to prove much. There’s no forensic evidence. There’s no confessions,” Browne said outside his hotel near the post.

“I’m certainly not saying that we’re not taking responsibility for this in the right way, at the right time. But for now, I’m interested in what the evidence is,” he said. “It’s not like a crime scene in the United States.” “The war’s on trial. I’m not putting the war on trial,” he said. “I’m not putting the war on trial, but the war is on trial.”


Scores dead and injured as explosions strike across Iraq

A series of explosions and shootings struck Tuesday across Iraq, leaving scores dead and injured a week before a major Arab summit in Baghdad aimed at showcasing the nation’s stability after the U.S. military withdrawal.

Starting shortly after dawn, at least 20 bombs exploded in 13 different sites, from Baghdad to the northern city of Kirkuk to the southern cities of Hillah and Karbala.

The nationwide death toll was at least 46, with more than 200 injured, the Associated Press reported.

At least two car bombs struck near the heavily fortified Green Zone, where next week’s Arab League summit is scheduled to take place.

The attacks were aimed at a range of targets: Shiite pilgrims, Iraqi police, an army patrol, government officials and guards outside a Christian church in Baghdad.

The audacious strikes exposed the vulnerabilities of Iraq’s massive security apparatus and highlighted the seemingly intractable political and sectarian violence that continues to consume the nation after the U.S. withdrawal in December.


Analysis of old photo hints at Amelia Earhart’s location

A new clue in one of the 20th century’s most enduring mysteries could soon uncover the fate of American aviator Amelia Earhart, who went missing without a trace over the South Pacific 75 years ago, investigators said Tuesday.

Enhanced analysis of a photograph taken just months after Earhart’s Lockheed Electra plane vanished shows what experts think may be the landing gear of the aircraft protruding from the waters off the remote island of Nikumaroro, in what is now the Pacific nation of Kiribati, they said.

Armed with that analysis by the State Department, historians, scientists and salvagers from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, are returning to the island in July in the hope of finding the wreckage of Earhart’s plane and perhaps even the remains of the pilot and her navigator Fred Noonan.

Ric Gillespie, executive director of the group, acknowledged that the evidence was “circumstantial” but “strong,” but stopped short of predicting success.

The new search is scheduled to last for 10 days in July and will use state-of-the-art underwater robotic submarines and mapping equipment.

“The most important thing is not whether we find the ultimate answer or what we find, it is the way we look,” he said. “We see this opportunity to explore … the last great American mystery of the 20th century as a vehicle for demonstrating how to go about figuring out what is true.”


Officials baffled by nighttime underground booming

A series of mysterious underground booms have been rattling a small eastern Wisconsin city for at least two nights, baffling residents and local officials who were left stumped Tuesday after ruling out numerous theories, from earthquakes to water pressure problems.

The noises – described as rumbles of thunder, sonic booms or fireworks – were being reported in northeast Clintonville, about 140 miles northwest of Milwaukee, on Sunday night but quieted down at daybreak.

The sounds started back up Monday night across a wider area and continued until about 5 a.m. Tuesday, said City Administrator Lisa Kuss.

“There’s no warning, it’s just ‘bam,’ ” Kuss said. “I would describe it as startling, an adrenalin rush. … Your heart is instantaneously kind of racing because you are not expecting it.”

Local resident Al Miller said he’s been hearing rumblings for a couple weeks but chalked it up to thunder or didn’t think much of it. But an especially loud boom woke him around 3 a.m. Monday.

“My house shook and it was just like a shock,” the 71-year-old said. “I got out of bed and was like ‘Wow.’ I thought one of my trees fell onto the house.”

When he went outside and saw the trees still standing, he also noticed his neighbors’ lights popping on because they’d heard it, too.

Harold Tobin, a University of Wisconsin-Madison seismologist, said there are similar reports of booms in different parts of the U.S. and world from time to time.

Sometimes they’re explained, sometimes they’re not, he said.

“I’m as intrigued and as puzzled as other people are,” he said Tuesday.