World briefs

Lebanon

Syrians brace as decisive battle looms

BEIRUT — Syrian opposition fighters blew up bridges Friday and dug trenches around their bases to impede an anticipated ground offensive on their last major stronghold in the country. They also called on residents to take up arms and support front-line fighters.

The looming battle for Idlib in northwestern Syria may be the last in the bloody seven years of conflict, which have backed hundreds of thousands of civilians into this deadly corner of the country with nowhere to run.

Russia

Ukraine separatists say leader killed

MOSCOW — A blast in a war-themed cafe in eastern Ukraine on Friday killed the most prominent leader of the Russia-backed separatists who have fought Ukrainian forces since 2014, rebel officials said.

The death of Alexander Zakharchenko, prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, underlined the dismal prospects for resolving the conflict that has killed over 10,000.

Poland

Nation totals WWII occupation’s cost

WARSAW — A parliamentary commission in Poland reported Friday that the country lost more than 5 million citizens and over $54 billion dollars worth of assets under the Nazi Germany occupation during World War II.

The commission announced the numbers as part of the current Polish government’s declared intent to seek damages from Germany.