Clinton to Russia: Syrian support is wrong
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Russian leaders Sunday in Vladivostok their support of Syria was an affront to Washington.
In a news conference, Clinton said she told Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov the United States was adamant in its position on the civil war that's wracked Syria since March 2011.
The state-run ITAR-Tass news agency said Clinton was blunt in her diplomatic challenge to Moscow.
"We have to be realistic," Clinton said. "We haven't seen eye-to-eye with Russia on Syria."
She made the remarks at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and made a veiled criticism of a U.N. bid to rein in Syrian President Bashar Assad's military response to rebels.
"There is no point in passing a resolution with no teeth because we have seen time and time again that Assad will ignore it and keep attacking his own people," she said.
Clinton was attending a summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.
Water system may be out in key Syrian city
ALEPPO, Syria, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Anti-government rebels in the Syrian city of Aleppo indicated Sunday the beleaguered town's water system had been knocked out of action.
A blogger inside Aleppo posted a report that supported media reports a government airstrike had targeted water infrastructure in the city, which has been contested by both sides this summer.
"My city is now thirsty, hungry and bloodied," said the anonymous post, which was re-posted by the British newspaper The Guardian.
The report could not be independently verified. However it was no secret Sunday that the fighting in and around Aleppo was continuing. Rebels told The Guardian at least seven people had been killed Sunday.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights said in a written statement that 160 people had been killed across Syria on Sunday. Activists based in Britain told The Guardian they knew of seven people killed Sunday in Aleppo.
Among the casualties this weekend was Syrian-born German filmmaker Tamer Al-Awam, who returned to his homeland to document the rebellion and was killed by shrapnel in Aleppo.
The Syrian government announced its troops had raided a vocational school in the Maysaloun area of Aleppo Sunday and freed "30 persons who were kidnapped by the armed terrorist groups." Troops said they killed five so-called terrorists in the raid, including snipers.
The Damascus regime has characterized the rebels as being largely run by al-Qaida and other outside troublemakers.
Iranian pastor released from prison
RASHT, Iran, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- An Iranian Christian preacher who had been sentenced to death was instead released this weekend, human rights activists said Sunday.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was released Saturday after his capital conviction for apostasy was reduced to a lesser charge of evangelizing Muslims.
Tiffany Barrans, international legal director of the American Center for Law and Justice, told CNN Nadarkhani, 34, left death row after nearly three years and was reunited with his family.
"His ability to preach in Iran, I don't know," Barrans said. "I think at this point, he's going to have to some time to assess the situation and all the emotions wrapped up in that before he makes any decision."
Nadarkhani had been arrested in 2009 for apostasy -- abandoning his Muslim faith -- after complaining that his child was being forced to read the Koran in school.
The case went all the way to the Iranian supreme court. The high court said it would commute his death sentence if he recanted his conversion to Christianity, which he refused to do.
Nadarkhani's plight was taken up by rights activists and in Washington where the Congress and the Obama administration made public calls this summer for his release.
The case was referred back to a trial court in his home province of Gilan, which reduced the charges and Nadarkhani's sentence to time served.
Pope preps for trip to tense Lebanon
VATICAN CITY, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI said he hoped his upcoming visit to Lebanon would help build a dialogue that would reduce tensions in the Middle East.
The pontiff told an audience at the Castel Gandolfo he was reaching out to people of all faiths in a region "too long torn apart by incessant conflicts."
"Even though the search for solutions to the various problems affecting the region seems difficult, we can not resign ourselves to the violence and exasperation of tensions," Benedict told French-speaking pilgrims at Sunday's midday Angelus. "A commitment to dialogue and reconciliation must be a priority for all parties involved, and must be supported by the international community."
Benedict is set to be in Lebanon Sept. 14-16 and is expected to be warmly greeted by members of Lebanon's minority Christian community, Vatican Radio said. It will be the pope's 24th overseas trip.
S.C. mom gets 10 years for missing son
COLUMBIA, S.C., Sept. 9 (UPI) -- A judge sentenced a South Carolina woman to 10 years in prison for her role in the disappearance of her 18-month-old child in December.
A jury found Zinah Jennings guilty of unlawful conduct toward a child Friday, The (Columbia) State reported.
Zinah has refused to reveal the location of her son, Amir Jennings, who would now be 2 years old. She has only said he is in a safe place.
Judge Knox McMahon contemplated Zinah Jennings' sentence Friday while looking at photographs of Amir.
"There's one innocent person," he told the those in the courtroom. "One blameless person. One person who cannot fend for himself, and that's Amir Jennings."
Zinah Jennings has been in police custody since Dec. 30. She and Amir had been reported missing in early December by her mother, Jocelyn Jennings. Police found Zinah Jennings Dec. 24 when she was involved in a single-car accident, though Amir was not with her.
Zinah Jennings gave birth to a second child, a daughter, Aug. 31, midway through her six-day trial, The State reported.