Top news: At least 60,000 people have been killed in the 22-month-long conflict in Syria, a new report by the United Nations said on Wednesday. According to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who issued the report, both rebels and government forces are at fault, as is the international community, which has "fiddled around the edges while Syria burns." A previous estimate by a Syrian opposition group put the death toll at 45,000.
On Thursday, fierce fighting continued in and around several airports in northern Syria, following one of the deadliest days in recent memory, in which more than 100 people were killed in Damascus alone. Rebels attempted to take over the Taftanaz base in the northwestern Idlib province Thursday, as well as the airport in Deir Ezzor. The Aleppo airport, meanwhile, is under siege and has been closed since Tuesday.
War in Afghanistan: Gen. John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, outlined three possible plans for residual U.S. troop levels in the country after Dec. 31, 2014, when Afghan security forces are scheduled to take over. The three plans, submitted to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, call for 6,000, 10,000, or 20,000 troops to remain on the ground after the scheduled exit date.
- Seleka rebels in Central African Republic agreed to start peace talks with the government.
- The two Jordanian peacekeepers abducted in the Darfur region of Sudan in August were released Wednesday.
- The death toll from the New Year's Eve stampede in Luanda has risen to 13, according to the Angolan media.
- Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak ordered the vicious response to protests in Feb. 2011, a new report found.
- Algerian forces killed two Islamist insurgents Wednesday in Boulzazene, bringing the total to nine this week.
- Iran has captured two small U.S. surveillance drones, according to the state news agency.
- Russia plans to conduct its largest naval exercise in decades at the end of the month.
- Italian technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti launched his election campaign Wednesday with a radio interview.
- A gunman killed three people and injured two others Wednesday in Switzerland's in Valais canton.
- Guatemala's homicide rate fell by 8.9 percent since 2011, authorities said Wednesday.
- A judge in New York refused to require the Justice Department to disclose a memo detailing the legal justification for the targeted killing of U.S. citizens.
- The Colombian military killed at least 13 FARC rebels in an airstrike amid ongoing peace talks in Cuba.
- Gunmen kidnapped seven Pakistani soldiers Wednesday as they traveled by bus to the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
- Myanmar's military acknowledged carrying out airstrikes against ethnic Kachin rebels in the north of the country.
- India plans to charge the five men suspected in the deadly gang rape of a medical student last month.