Huge protests grip Syria; 14 killed in clashes
BEIRUT — Hundreds of thousands of protesters flooded cities around Syria on Friday in what activists described as the largest outpouring against the regime of President Bashar Assad and a powerful message of the opposition’s resolve. At least 14 people were killed in various clashes, activists said.
The wildfire rage — flaring in dozens of places at the same time — further strained the resources of Assad’s security forces and military as they also try to choke off a refugee wave into Turkey.
The centerpiece of the latest protests — the central city of Hama — brings further complications for the government. Security forces moved outside Hama in early June after shootings that left 65 people dead.
Gadhafi makes threats of attack on Europe
TRIPOLI, Libya — A defiant Moammar Gadhafi threatened Friday to carry out attacks in Europe against ‘‘homes, offices, families,’’ unless NATO halts its campaign of airstrikes against his regime in Libya.
The Libyan leader, sought by the International Criminal Court for a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters, delivered the warning in a telephone message played to thousands of supporters gathered in the main square of the capital Tripoli.
It was one of the largest pro-government rallies in recent months, signaling that Gadhafi can still muster significant support. A green cloth, several hundred meters long and held aloft by supporters, snaked above the crowd filling Tripoli’s Green Square.
A series of powerful explosions later rattled the heart of the capital, apparently new NATO airstrike.
1,500 people evacuated in London fire
LONDON — A fire at London’s Park Lane Hilton hotel forced the evacuation of about 1,500 people including the front man of rock group Black Eyed Peas.
Around 20 firefighters were sent to the luxury hotel early Friday evening after the fire department received reports of smoke in a second-floor kitchen vent and in the basement.
The Daily Mail newspaper published pictures of Black Eyed Peas singer Will-i-am walking out of the hotel, covering his mouth with the top of his T-shirt. The singer was in town to perform at an open-air festival in Hyde Park, across the street from the hotel.