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By Jatindra Dash BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - Maoist rebels ambushed police and killed 16 involved in a mine clearing operation in a remote part of eastern India region on Tuesday, police said, as the insurgents demonstrated their strength ahead of a general election next month. The head of anti-Maoist operations in the state police force told Reuters one civilian was among the dead. The rebels have operated for decades across a wide swath of central and eastern India, and grew in strength during recent times in areas where poor, tribal villagers came into conflict with mining companies seeking resources for industrialization.
By Samia Nakhoul KILLIS, ON THE TURKISH-SYRIAN BORDER (Reuters) - Syrian refugees in this border outpost were delighted to hear their home town of Azaz had been liberated - not from Bashar al-Assad's troops but from al Qaeda fighters who subjected them to a regime that included torture and public beheadings. For Syrians who three years ago rose up against 43 years of Assad family rule, living under the hard-line Sunni jihadists who said they had come to save them from the president's atrocities was even worse than Assad himself. While neither Assad nor the rebels have the upper hand, there is a growing sense among his foreign opponents that the battle for Syria has become a twin-track operation, with defeating the jihadists as important as ousting Assad. Many of those who initially succeeded in liberating large parts of northern Syria from government control soon found themselves under the yoke of foreign jihadists.