SYRIA: U.S. troops at Jordan border
U.S. troops have been sent to Jordan to bolster its military capabilities in the event Syria's civil war escalates, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday, reflecting U.S. concerns about the conflict spilling over borders and about the security of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal. Speaking in Brussels at a conference of NATO defense ministers, Panetta said the United States has been working with Jordan to monitor chemical and biological weapons sites in Syria and also to help deal with refugees. About 150 troops, largely Army special operations forces, are working out of a military center near Amman, two senior defense officials said. Meanwhile, Turkish jets forced a Syrian Air Airbus 320 coming from Moscow with 37 passengers and crew to land at Ankara airport on suspicion that it might be carrying weapons or other military equipment, amid heightened tensions between Turkey and Syria.
FRANCE: Bomb materials discovered
Police discovered bomb-making materials in an underground parking lot near Paris in their probe of an "extremely dangerous terrorist cell" linked to an attack on a kosher grocery, a state prosecutor said Wednesday. Interior Minister Manuel Valls said some of the 12 suspected cell members arrested over the weekend appeared to have plans to go to Syria to fight in its civil war. Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said the bomb-making materials were discovered late Tuesday in Torcy, east of the capital.
A court acquitted 24 loyalists of ousted President Hosni Mubarak who had been accused of organizing a dramatic attack on protesters during last year's uprising, the "Camel Battle," in which assailants on horses and camels charged into crowds in Tahrir Square. The 24 were found innocent Wednesday of manslaughter and attempted murder. The Feb. 2, 2011 assault left nearly a dozen people killed and was a major turning point in the 18-day wave of protests that led to Mubarak's downfall.