Top news: As violence continues to rage in Syria -- with a jihadist group claiming responsibility for suicide bombings at an intelligence compound near Damascus earlier this week -- the New York Times, citing unnamed American officials, is reporting that the U.S. military has secretly dispatched a task force of more than 150 "planners and other specialists" to a Jordanian military training center near Amman.
The task force is intended to help the Jordanian military "handle a flood of Syrian refugees, prepare for the possibility that Syria will lose control of its chemical weapons and be positioned should the turmoil in Syria expand into a wider conflict," the Times reports.
Meanwhile, Turkey, another neighbor of Syria's, has warned that it will respond aggressively if Syrian shells keep falling on Turkish territory. "If it continues, we will make a stronger response," Turkey's top general, Necdet Ozel, declared. The Turkish military fired on Syrian positions for six straight days in retaliation for a Syrian shell that killed five Turkish civilians.
Pakistan: Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old rights activist in Pakistan's Swat Valley, reportedly underwent successful surgery after she was shot in the head by Taliban militants.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for early elections next year because of political deadlock over a new budget.
- Iraq signed arms contracts with Russia, which is now Baghdad's second-biggest weapons supplier.
- The International Criminal Court held its first public hearing on how to handle the trial of former Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam.
- Armed men stole the corpse of the leader of the Zetas drug cartel after he was killed by the Mexican Marines.
- Brazil's Supreme Court found the chief of staff for former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva guilty of corruption.
- Abu Hamza al-Masri, the Muslim cleric extradited from Britain to the United States, pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges.
- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard accused the country's opposition leader of sexism in a fiery speech.
- A U.S. drone strike reportedly killed five suspected militants in the Pakistani tribal region of North Waziristan.
- The head of China's central bank withdrew from World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in Japan.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged support for Greece during a visit to Athens that sparked protests.
- French police discovered weapons and bomb-making materials as part of an investigation into suspected radical Islamists.
- At a hearing in Moscow, members of the band Pussy Riot defended their protest song and spoke out against their trial.
- Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki rejected an effort by lawmakers to pay themselves bonuses.
- Congo's former defense minister criticized the charges he's facing over an explosion at an arms depot in March.
- The South African mining company Gold One fired more than 1,400 striking workers.
KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images