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Russia to offer air base to U.S. for Afghan transit

MOSCOW — A new deal allowing the United States and its NATO allies to use a Russian air base to deploy troops and military cargo to Afghanistan would help ensure Russia’s own security, Russia’s foreign minister said Wednesday.

Sergey Lavrov said a plan to permit the use of a base in the city of Ulyanovsk on the Volga River will soon be considered by the Russian Cabinet.

Moscow has provided NATO with air corridors and railway routes for carrying supplies to and from Afghanistan.

The new deal would for the first time allow alliance members to set up a logistics facility for troops and cargo on Russian territory.

SYRIA

Troops attack Daraa; opposition in disarray

BEIRUT — Syrian forces fired mortars and heavy machine-guns Wednesday in an attack on the southern city where the anti-government uprising began, propelled by recent military victories over rebels as the opposition fell into disarray.

At least two prominent Syrian dissidents said they have quit the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, calling it an “autocratic” organization.

The opposition has been hobbled by disorganization and infighting since the popular revolt against President Bashar Assad began a year ago.

SWITZERLAND

Bus crash kills 28, including 22 children

GENEVA — A tour bus slammed into a tunnel wall in the Swiss Alps, killing 22 schoolchildren and six adults returning to Belgium from a ski vacation, police said Wednesday.

Another 24 students were hospitalized after one of the deadliest highway accidents in Swiss history left the front of the bus mangled, trapping some people inside.

The bus carrying 52 people, including students of around age 12 from two Belgian schools, hit the tunnel wall shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday on a highway near the southern town of Sierre.

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