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story.lead_photo.caption A woman makes her way on a bicycle early Thursday after heavy snowfall in Munich, Germany.

Rebels strike deal on Syria stronghold

BEIRUT -- An al-Qaida-linked coalition in Syria cemented its hold on the last major rebel stronghold in the country after Turkish-backed opposition groups accepted a surrender deal that effectively gives to the extremists control of the entire region in northwestern Syria, opposition activists and a war monitor said Thursday.

The Levant Liberation Committee took over control of Idlib province and the surrounding countryside after forcing rival insurgents to accept a deal for a civil administration run by the coalition in their areas.

The developments threaten to derail a cease-fire in the area reached in September between Turkey and Russia that averted a potentially catastrophic Syrian army assault on Idlib. The deal comes after days of fierce fighting during which the Levant Liberation Committee seized more than two dozen villages from the Turkey-backed National Liberation Front.

Idlib province is the last major rebel stronghold in civil war-torn Syria outside government control, with the exception of northeastern Syria, which is controlled by U.S.-backed Kurdish groups. The Syrian government has repeatedly threatened an offensive to recapture Idlib province, which is packed with 3 million people, including many who were displaced from other parts of the country.

Alps under snow, travel at standstill

BERLIN -- Once-in-a-generation heavy snowfall has paralyzed travel and tourism in parts of the Alps, with conditions that have left at least six people dead, Austrian officials said Thursday.

Heavy snowfall and strong winds are projected to continue in Austria and southern parts of Germany until at least today , dropping at least an additional 20 inches of snow over 24 hours on parts of the Alps that have already seen as much as 10 feet over the past week.

Several regions have declared states of emergency as some roads, railways and ski resorts remain closed. Hundreds of tourists and residents are cut off in Austria because of unusually high avalanche risks.

The weather has been so severe that helicopters that would usually be used for controlled avalanches are grounded.

North of the Austrian border, in the German state of Bavaria, many schools have closed and rail service on many lines has been canceled.

In the municipality of Jachenau, the fire brigade is keeping a grocery store stocked because commercial trucks are unable to reach the area, according to Oliver Platzer, a spokesman of the Bavarian Interior Ministry.

On Thursday, a 16-year-old German-Austrian skier died after being caught in an avalanche in St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria.

Exiled to hut, mom, 2 sons found dead

KATHMANDU, Nepal -- A woman and her two sons have died in a remote town in Nepal because of a tradition in which women are exiled from their homes and forced to live in huts during menstruation, a government administrator said Thursday.

The 35-year-old woman and her sons were found dead by family and villagers in a small hut next to their family home on Wednesday morning about 250 miles northwest of Kathmandu, said Bajura District chief administrator Chetraj Baral.

He suspected they died of smoke inhalation because it is cold in the mountains and they kept a small fire to keep warm. The hut had space that was barely enough for three people. Baral said parts of the clothes they were wearing were also burnt.

Baral said he is consulting with government lawyers on whether to press charges against the family. The bodies were sent to a nearby town hospital for autopsy. The practice was banned by the Supreme Court in 2005 and a new law criminalized it last year, with violators who force women into exile during menstruation facing up to three months in prison or a fine of about $29.

Cartel dispute suspected in 21 killings

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican authorities said Thursday that 21 bodies, some burned, have been found in the northern Mexico border state of Tamaulipas in what appears to have been a clash of drug gangs.

The bodies were found near the remains of seven burned-out vehicles near the border town of Miguel Aleman.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the killings Wednesday appear to have been part of a dispute between gangs, and said details would be released once all the information was gathered.

The area around Miguel Aleman had long been dominated by the Zetas drug cartel, which was locked in a battle for control of crime in the Rio Grande Valley with the rival Gulf cartel. Miguel Aleman is about 50 miles west of McAllen, Texas, which was visited Thursday by U.S. President Donald Trump as part of his campaign for a wall or barrier along the border with Mexico.

The Zetas cartel has since splintered, and the deaths in Miguel Aleman appear to have resulted from a dispute between the Gulf cartel and one of the Zetas factions, the Northeast cartel.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May walks with senior British army officer Major General Benjamin John Bathurst as Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe receives a military guard of honor in London, ahead of bilateral talks at 10 Downing Street on Thursday.

A Section on 01/11/2019

Print Headline: Rebels strike deal on Syria stronghold Alps under snow, travel at standstill Exiled to hut, mom, 2 sons found dead Cartel dispute suspected in 21 killings

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