Top news: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday backed President Barack Obama's plan for a limited strike against Syria, setting the stage for broader congressional debate about how to punish Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad for his use of chemical weapons. The resolution, which prohibits the use of ground troops and limits strikes to a 60 day period -- with the possibility of a 30 day extension -- passed by a vote of 10 to seven only after Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) added amendments expanding the range of targets and the type of firepower to be used.
The full Senate will most likely vote on the resolution next week, but the House of Representatives is not expected to take it up until the week after that. The White House welcomed yesterday's SFRC vote, saying, "America is stronger when the president and Congress work together."
Meanwhile, a previously unseen video smuggled out of Syria shows rebel forces executing seven captured regime soldiers as they lie bound and shirtless on the ground. The footage, shot in April, adds to the mounting body of evidence of atrocities carried out by anti-regime forces, whose increasing radicalization has given Western policymakers pause.
Egypt: Egypt's interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, survived an assassination attempt on Thursday, when his motorcade was targeted with a bomb in Cairo's Nasr City district. Two people were killed and another 10 injured, according to security officials.
- The al Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra rebel group on Wednesday launched an offensive against a regime-held, predominantly Christian village in western Syria.
- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will deliver three speeches at this year's U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, Iranian state media reported on Wednesday.
- Tunisia's secular opposition on Wednesday threatened more mass demonstrations as negotiations with the Islamist-led coalition government foundered.
- Kenya's parliament will hold an emergency session on Thursday to debate withdrawing from the International Criminal Court.
- Upon being sworn in as Mali's new president on Wednesday, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita pledged to fight corruption and make peace with the country's separatist north.
- The Dangote Group, run by Africa's richest man, on Wednesday signed a loan worth $3.3 billion to build the largest oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Nigeria.
- At the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg on Thursday, China's vice finance minister warned that Western military intervention in Syria would push up oil prices and damage the world economy.
- A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced Yang Dacai, a former Shaanxi Province safety inspection official, to 14 years in prison for graft.
- Philippines' Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Wednesday accused China of moving to occupy the disputed Scarborough Shoal before new regional maritime rules come into effect.
- Brazil's lower house on Wednesday approved a bill that would abolish the system of secret voting in the national legislature.
- Mexico's Senate on Wednesday approved a diluted version of the sweeping education reforms proposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto.
- Following Wednesday's massive blackout, Venezuela announced the formation of a new security unit devoted to protecting the power grid.
- A British parliamentary committee will hold hearings next Monday on severance payments made by the BBC to senior managers between 2009 and 2012.
- Striking coal miners in northern Bosnia-Herzegovina reached a deal with management on Wednesday, after protesting underground since Monday.
- The British government announced Wednesday that Ivan Rogers, a top advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron, will become the country's next EU envoy.