Syria

Military chopper crashes

A Syrian military helicopter crashed in a ball of fire Monday after apparently being hit during clashes between government forces and rebels in the capital Damascus, activists said, in a sign of the fighters’ growing abilities as they struggle to topple President Bashar Assad’s regime. A video posted on the Internet showed the chopper engulfed in flames and spinning out of control shortly before it hit the ground amid bursts of gunfire near a mosque.

Venezuela

Refinery blaze spreads

An intense fire at a Venezuelan refinery spread to a third fuel tank on Monday nearly three days after an explosion killed at least 41 people and injured more than 150. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said a third tank ignited at the Amuay refinery, which has been in flames since Saturday’s blast. Government officials had previously said they had the blaze contained, and the spread to another tank was an apparent setback to their plans to quickly restart the refinery.

Greece

Cost cutting targets jets

Greece’s prime minister has decided to get rid of two of the government’s three jets as part of the debt-crippled country’s cost-cutting efforts. A government statement says Antonis Samaras has instructed officials to hand over the biggest of the planes to the air force, which will use it for pilot training and as a medical transport. A second Embraer jet will be sold, and the proceeds given to the armed forces — whose budgets have been cut over the past 2½ years of austerity.

France

Designer loses honor

France’s leading Jewish group said the Legion of Honor has complied with its rules by stripping disgraced fashion designer John Galliano of its honor award, a year after he was convicted over a drunken, anti-Semitic tirade in Paris. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy had awarded the British designer the Legion d’Honneur decoration in 2009 for his services to French couture, but it was withdrawn last week.

Compiled from wire reports.