Receive Breaking News updates as they occur
By Mariam Karouny and Stephen Kalin BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian forces backed by Hezbollah militants took full control of the town of Yabroud on Sunday after driving out rebels, helping President Bashar al-Assad secure the land route connecting the capital Damascus with Aleppo and the Mediterranean coast. The fall of Yabroud, the last rebel bastion near the Lebanese border, could sever a vital insurgent supply line from Lebanon and consolidate government control over a swathe of territory from Damascus to the central city of Homs. A military source told Reuters that about 1,400 rebels from the Free Syrian Army, Ahrar al-Sham and other factions had fled Yabroud in the past two days. Another 1,000 militants from the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front had held out on Saturday to fight government forces which had entered eastern districts of Yabroud and captured several hilltops.
US intelligence is focusing on the pilot and co-pilot's role in the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines jet that vanished March 8 with 239 people on board, a key US lawmaker said Sunday. And the question is who is behind that," said Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Simferopol (Ukraine) (AFP) - 17:15 GMT - Germany ramps up rhetoric - Germany buys around one third of its oil and gas from Russia, but Berlin has not shied away from warning it will impose stiff penalties if Moscow annexes Crimea. Germany Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has ramped up the rhetoric and issued a sharp warning to Russia over its seizure of Crimea and Sunday's referendum, our correspondent Deborah Cole reports from Berlin. But if Russia does not back down at the last minute, the EU foreign ministers will give an appropriate initial response on Monday," he told Sunday's edition of the newspaper Welt am Sonntag. Tensions are also building in the east of Ukraine.