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Rebels in Syria kill 78 troops

Syrian rebels have killed 78 soldiers, about half of them in attacks on military checkpoints in the north just hours after a wave of bombings hit the Damascus area.

The unusually high toll for regime forces came after days of intense air bombardment of rebel positions around the country which killed hundreds more.

Activists said President Bashar Assad's regime has been making even heavier use than before of air strikes to try to win back territory rebels have captured.

The northern city of Maaret al-Numan is being used by rebels as a base to disrupt government supplies to Aleppo, a key front in the civil war.

Soldier guilty

of hitman plot

A US soldier has been convicted in a murder-for-hire scheme in which he agreed to help kill a man for undercover agents posing as members of a Mexican drug cartel in exchange for drugs and cash.

Prosecutors alleged that Samuel Walker (29) a soldier from Colorado Springs, thought he was talking to a cartel boss when he agreed to kill a man who had stolen cocaine and recover the drugs. The cartel boss was really a US Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

Record payout

over jail ordeal

A Chinese man who served 11 years of a life sentence for a wrongful conviction of fraud was awarded a record state compensation of 825,000 yuan (¤101,000) this week.

Guangdong's supreme court granted the compensation to Huang Liyi (39) for deprivation of personal freedom as well as psychological and emotional distress.

Wrongful convictions are common in China, which is notorious for using torture to extort confessions.

Parents 'kill girl

in acid attack'

A couple in Pakistan allegedly killed their 15-year-old daughter by throwing acid on her because she supposedly had an affair with a boy.

Officials said the couple were arrested in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Police say the parents confessed to killing the girl a day earlier because they believed she had sullied the family's honour.