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SYRIA: Arms to rebels stepped up

Mideast powers opposed to President Bashar Assad have dramatically stepped up weapons supplies to Syrian rebels in coordination with the United States in preparation for a push on Damascus, officials and Western military experts said Wednesday. A carefully prepared covert operation is arming rebels, involving Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, with Western governments consulting, according to a senior Arab official. He said the number of arms airlifts has doubled in the past four weeks.

TAIWAN: One death in 6.1 earthquake

A magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck central Taiwan on Wednesday, killing one person and injuring 19 as it damaged buildings on the quake-prone island. Buildings swayed in the capital, Taipei, and sections of the high-speed rail line were suspended from service to be inspected for damage. A 72-year-old woman died when a temple wall she was standing next to collapsed and crushed her in the mostly rural county of Nantou.

GREECE: Bomb strike near Acropolis

A bomb exploded outside a shipowner's house near a crowded pedestrian area under the Acropolis in central Athens on Wednesday night, causing minor damage but no injuries. The explosion a few hundred meters from the country's most famous monument came after a warning call to a newspaper. A string of bomb attacks by anarchist groups have caused no major injuries.

RUSSIA: Tunneler steals crude oil

A Russian spent three years digging a 60-meter tunnel to steal oil from a pipeline in the Novosibirsk region of Siberia, the local branch of the Interior Ministry said. The man, 52, stole about 220 barrels of crude over the past three months via the tunnel, which he dug after work and on weekends, police said. The man, who wasn't named, said his earnings from the scheme didn't justify his investment. Damages to OAO Transneft, pipeline operator and owner of the trunk line, reached 500,000 rubles ($16,000), the ministry said. Transneft's pipeline network, the world's longest, was breached 180 times last year, the state-run company reports.

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