MADRID — More than three centuries after 37 Jews from Mallorca were killed during the Spanish Inquisition for secretly practicing their faith, the island’s leading government figure issued an official condemnation Thursday.
It was the first time the 1691 killings were criticized in Mallorca by an official, and Spain’s national Jewish federation said it may have been the first event of its kind for the nation.
‘‘We have dared to gather here to recognize the grave injustice committed against those Mallorcans who were accused, persecuted, charged and condemned to death for their faith and their beliefs,’’ Balearic Islands regional president Francesc Antich told about 130 people gathered for the memorial service in the city of Palma.
In 1492, Spain’s Jews were given two choices: convert to Catholicism or leave the country. Many departed, fleeing to places like Istanbul, London and Cairo. Others abandoned their religion for Catholicism.
Syrian troops mass around coastal city
BEIRUT — The Syrian army said Thursday it has begun withdrawing from a city at the heart of the country’s uprising, but the regime expanded its crackdown elsewhere by deploying soldiers and arresting hundreds ahead of a new wave of anti-government protests.
The siege on Daraa — the southern city where Syria’s six-week-old uprising began — lasted 11 days with President Bashar Assad unleashing tanks and snipers to crush dissent there. Syria’s state-run media said the military had ‘‘carried out its mission in detaining terrorists’’ and restored calm in Daraa.
Still, an activist who has been giving The Associated Press updates from Daraa cast doubt on the army claim. The activist, who left Daraa early Thursday, said residents were reporting that tanks and troops were still in the city.
Suspected US missile kills 2 in Yemen
SANAA, Yemen — A suspected U.S. drone aircraft fired a missile at a car in southern Yemen on Thursday, killing two brothers believed to be al-Qaida militants, said security and tribal officials.
Yemen’s Defense Ministry confirmed the deaths of the brothers in Shabwa province, but would not provide any further details.
In September, the country’s foreign minister said it was no longer allowing missile strikes by pilotless planes. But after al-Qaida smuggled explosives aboard cargo planes bound for the U.S. in late October, it is believed the strikes resumed.