Top news: Israeli warplanes bombed a convoy of trucks near the Syrian border with Lebanon on Wednesday, apparently targeting a shipment of Russian-made SA-17 missiles being trafficked to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The attack, which marked the first time since 2007 that Israel has carried out a raid inside Syria, prompted harsh condemnation from embattled President Bashar al-Assad, but no immediate retaliation.
Israel did not confirm the strikes, but on Sunday it deployed the Iron Dome missile defense system near Haifa, which saw heavy bombing during the 2006 war with Hezbollah. Earlier this week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials held a series of security meetings, and warned that the transfer of chemical weapons to Hezbollah could necessitate a preemptive strike.
The attack highlights Israel's increasing concern that Hezbollah will take advantage of the chaos in Syria to arm itself against the Jewish state. For its part, the Shiite militant organization condemned the strike and expressed "full solidarity with Syria's command, army, and people."
Iran: Iranian exports of crude oil rebounded to their highest level since European Union sanctions went into effect last July, in part because of Chinese demand. Western sanctions halved Iran's oil production in 2012, but increasing demand from China -- as well as the acquisition of new tankers -- has dampened their effect. According to Reuters, Iran shipped more than 1.4 million bpd in December 2012, up from a low point of less than 900,000 bpd last September.
- French forces took control of Kidal, the last major rebel stronghold in northern Mali.
- Zimbabwe's finance minister appealed to international donors to help pay for upcoming elections after revealing that the government had only $217 left in its accounts.
- Most of the ancient manuscripts housed in the northern Malian city of Timbuktu survived the city's occupation by Islamist militants.
- Iran told the U.N. nuclear watchdog in a letter that it plans to upgrade the uranium enrichment centrifuges at its Natanz facility.
- Top Muslim Brotherhood officials and members of the Egyptian opposition held talks Thursday in an effort to halt ongoing violence.
- The United Nations said that international donors have pledged more than $1.5 billion in aid to help civilians affected by the war in Syria.
- A Russian court upheld an Internet ban against members of the punk band Pussy Riot.
- Anti-austerity protesters clashed with police in Athens Wednesday and stormed the Labor Ministry.
- German authorities opened a new investigation into the 1944 massacre of 642 people by SS troops in the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane.
- Fourteen people pleaded guilty to "encouraging mass violence" in eastern China last year where scores of police were hurt and government offices were stormed.
- Chinese computer hackers have repeatedly attacked the New York Times' network over the last four months.
- The South Korean satellite launched Wednesday successfully made contact with a station on the ground.
- A magnitude 6.8 earthquake rocked central-northern Chile on Wednesday, but no major damage was reported.
- Cuba granted a passport to prominent anti-government blogger Yoani Sanchez.
- FARC rebels in Colombia said they intend to continue capturing military personnel, despite warnings that it could undermine peace negotiations.