SYRIA

Big military setback for Assad regime

The Assad regime sustained a major setback in northern Syria this week with the loss of two major military bases, and the big winner in the battle was al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, which led the assault and captured what's thought to be an enormous arsenal.

The victory by Nusra, which has been on the U.S. list of terrorist groups since 2012, marked another loss of American influence on the battlefield. It came a month after Nusra ousted two U.S.-supported moderate rebel groups from their bases in Idlib province.

But the main loser was the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Of the estimated 1,000 or more troops stationed at the Wadi al Deif and al Hamidiyah bases, only about 500 had reached the city of Hama - to which the troops withdrew - as of Tuesday night, about half of them wounded.
    - McClatchy Newspapers
JAPAN

Fries are rationed

Japan is being buffeted by food crisis: McDonald's is running out of french fries. From Wednesday, customers will be able to buy only small packs of fries with their orders, which in Japan includes crab croquette burgers. The reason for the shortage? Labor disputes at U.S. West Coast ports are holding up shipments. As a result, only 55 percent of the monthly average volume of french fries is likely to be imported in December, the Asahi Shimbun reported. - Washington Post
FRANCE

Bidding for heritage

When diplomacy and a plea

to return sacred ceremonial masks to an American Indian tribe in the United States

failed, officials from the Navajo Nation traveled to the Paris auction house selling the

items and started bidding for them. They fended off a French art collector Monday, winning seven masks for more than $9,000. - AP