Jordan

Training of Syrian rebels begins

After months of delays and vetting, the training of Syrian rebels has started in Jordan as part of a broader effort to build a force capable of fighting Islamic State extremists, U.S. and Jordanian officials said Thursday. Jordan is the first of four training sites to begin the instruction. The others are in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, and Turkish officials have said that the training would start this weekend. More than 3,750 Syrian fighters have volunteered, and about 400 have completed the prescreening.

NATO

Nations to stage military exercises

NATO countries are staging massive air, land and sea exercises across Russia's northern borders this month in response to warnings from the Kremlin and strategic analysts that President Vladimir Putin's threats to use nuclear weapons are more than bluster. The exercises in Estonia, Lithuania and Norway involve more than 21,000 troops and state-of-the-art military hardware. Coupled with U.S. training of Ukrainian forces and the activation of a 3,000-strong rapid-reaction force to defend Eastern Europe, they appear intended to send a message to Moscow that the alliance is ready to defend its new members in Russia's back yard.

Israel

Netanyahu reserves post for rival

A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that he was reserving the post of foreign minister for Isaac Herzog of the center-left Zionist Union, in hopes of expanding the razor-thin majority government he just formed into a broad one of national unity. But Herzog, whose party finished second behind Netanyahu's Likud in the elections March 17, said his faction would "not be a fifth wheel and have no intention of saving Netanyahu from the hole he has dug for himself."

California

Prosecutors expand police inquiry

Prosecutors in San Francisco are expanding an investigation into criminal cases that might have been compromised by revelations of police officers' racist and homophobic texts, District Attorney George Gascon said. The probe has identified 3,000 criminal cases that could have been affected by perceived bias by 14 officers. Investigators will comb through each case to determine whether some convictions must be overturned or pending cases dismissed.

Massachusetts

Witness dispute disrupts bombing trial

With the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the convicted Boston Marathon bomber, nearing its denouement, court was adjourned abruptly as lawyers argued over the final witnesses who would testify on Tsarnaev's behalf. Defense lawyers had been expected to finish Thursday with two final witnesses, including prominent death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean. But prosecutors, without explanation, objected to any testimony from Prejean, 76.

news services