Air strikes hit Syrian rebel-held areas
DARAA • Waves of air strikes pounded rebel-held areas of southern Syria yesterday as pro-regime forces launched their most intensive bombing campaign yet in a two-week-old offensive.
The renewed assault came after the failure on Wednesday of Russian-brokered talks to end the offensive in Daraa province, which has killed dozens and forced tens of thousands from their homes.
Iran threatens to block Strait of Hormuz
TEHERAN • Iran will stop oil exports from the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most important oil chokepoint, if the United States succeeds in halting crude sales from the Persian Gulf nation, according to a Revolutionary Guards official.
"Any hostile attempt by the US will be followed by an exorbitant cost for them," said deputy commander of the Sarollah Revolutionary Guards base in Teheran Esmail Kowsari, according to the Young Journalists Club, affiliated with Iran's national broadcaster. "If Iran's oil exports are to be prevented, we will not give permission for oil to be exported to the world through the Strait of Hormuz."
Madagascar banana may hold secrets
LONDON • A wild banana that may hold the key to protecting the world's edible banana crop has been put on the extinction list, the BBC said yesterday.
It is found only on Madagascar, with just five mature trees left in the wild.
Most bananas consumed around the world are of a type known as the Cavendish, which is vulnerable to a plant pest.
But scientists say the Madagascar variety has evolved in isolation on the island and may have special properties, the BBC said.