Aleppo offensive enters final phase
ALEPPO (Syria) • The Syrian army recaptured a major district of Aleppo yesterday, leaving rebel fighters cornered in a small pocket as the battle for the city entered its final phase.
President Bashar al-Assad's forces held more than 90 per cent of the one-time opposition stronghold of east Aleppo, a monitor and military official said, and appeared on the verge of retaking the entire city.
Sydney fireworks 'live' on Facebook
SYDNEY • Sydney's famous New Year's Eve fireworks, which traditionally kick off the world's celebrations, are set to be streamed live on Facebook for the first time, officials said yesterday.
The visual extravaganza in Australia's biggest city is watched by more than a million people at Sydney Harbour .
Organisers hope the live stream will be viewed by more than 10 million Facebook users around the world.
IMF head on trial over massive state payout
PARIS • International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde went on trial in France yesterday over a massive state payout to a flamboyant tycoon when she was finance minister.
Ms Lagarde denies the charges of negligence, arguing she was acting "in the state's interest" in making the payment to Mr Bernard Tapie, the former owner of sportswear giant Adidas and the Olympique Marseille football club.
Venezuela pulls bill from circulation
CARACAS • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has signed an emergency decree ordering the country's largest banknote, the 100-bolivar bill, taken out of circulation to thwart "mafias" he accused of hoarding cash in Colombia.
The announcement came as the government of Venezuela - a country in the midst of an economic crisis - prepares to issue new banknotes and coins in values up to 200 times the highest denomination currently available.