Briefly: Red Cross says 1.5 million in Syria lack basics
GENEVA — Fighting in parts of Syria has morphed into local guerrilla wars, the Red Cross said Tuesday, where the number of prisoners remains unknown and 1.5 million people need help getting food, water, shelter, power and sanitation.
Fighting in the central city of Homs, where U.N. observers helped halt weeks of artillery attacks, and in the northern Syrian town of Idlib are now noninternational armed conflicts, said Jakob Kellenberger, president of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“The type of the violence has changed a little bit,” Mr. Kellenberger told a news conference at ICRC headquarters in Geneva. “At least in recent weeks, you have no longer these big battles like one had in Homs in the second half of February. You have more guerrilla attacks and bomb attacks.”
He also said ICRC has gained permission to visit detainees at Aleppo’s central prison from May 14 to 23 and is pushing for access to others.
Netanyahu unveils unity government
JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a revamped coalition government Tuesday, forming a broad alliance with the chief opposition party that could free his hand to take action on peace with the Palestinians and decide whether to attack Iran.
In a stunning reversal, Mr. Netanyahu called off plans to hold early parliamentary elections and struck an agreement with the rival Kadima party.
Mr. Netanyahu now presides over a coalition with 94 seats in the 120-member parliament, one of the broadest governments in Israeli history.
They promised close cooperation on Iran and expressed hope that long-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians would resume, though signs of differences on the Palestinian issue quickly surfaced.
Mr. Netanyahu’s current coalition, which had been remarkably stable since taking office in March 2009, has been riven by divisions in recent weeks over court orders to demolish two West Bank settlement outposts and to end draft exemptions for tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men.
Unable to bridge these differences, Mr. Netanyahu announced Monday he would push for early elections in September, more than a year ahead of schedule.