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SYRIA: Regime seen using TNT bombs

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday that Syria's air force is using so-called barrel bombs, containers stuffed with TNT, to damage neighborhoods heavily. Fabius said Syrian leader Bashar Assad's regime has "entered a new phase in the violence by using MiG [aircraft] and dropping barrels of TNT." He confirmed what delegates from rebel-held zones in Syria were saying as a meeting got under way in Paris aimed at extending a French initiative of direct aid to local councils in so-called liberated zones of Syria. France has been sneaking large sums of cash, $2 million in all, to civilians in Syria to help rebel-held towns rebuild bakeries, dispose of garbage and set up a police force. The United States is among a dozen countries with such aid programs, but it was unclear whether Washington was using the cloak-and-dagger route the French are using.

PAKISTAN: Taking on militants debated

Despite widespread outrage over the Taliban shooting of a teenage activist, Pakistani leaders and opinion makers are divided over whether the government should respond by targeting the militants' last major sanctuary along the Afghan border. The attack on Malala Yousufzai, 14, has given new momentum to the debate. One side argues the government should harness anger over the shooting to build public support for a push into North Waziristan. The other claims more fighting isn't the answer and would trigger a violent backlash. In England, where she was sent for medical treatment, Malala was said to be showing more improvement Wednesday, including moving her limbs.

SOUTH KOREA: Fisherman victim of raid

A Chinese fisherman has died of injuries after being shot in a South Korean coast guard raid Tuesday when his vessel entered South Korean waters in the Yellow Sea, adding to tensions over maritime disputes in the region. Chinese fishboats have clashed repeatedly with the coast guards and commercial vessels of nearby countries, including Vietnam and Japan.

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