In brief: U.S., Japan agree on new missile system

TOKYO – U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said today that U.S. and Japanese officials have agreed to put a second missile defense system in Japan.

The exact location of the installation has not yet been determined. It will be in the south, officials said, but not in Okinawa.

Officials stressed that the radar system is aimed at protecting the region against the threat from North Korea missiles and is not directed at China.

The U.S. already has similar early warning radar systems on ships in the Asia-Pacific.

This second Japan-based system will allow ships to spread out and cover other parts of the region.

Panetta said the new system would also be effective in protecting the U.S. homeland from the North Korea threat. He spoke during a press conference in Tokyo with the Japanese defense minister.

Syria says Turkey is aiding terrorists

DAMASCUS, Syria – Syria accused neighboring Turkey on Sunday of allowing thousands of Muslim extremists to cross into its territory, as the government and opposition said an explosion killed at least seven and cut off a main road leading south from the capital.

In letters to the U.N. Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Syria’s Foreign Ministry said Turkey allowed “thousands of al-Qaida, Takfiri and Wahhabi terrorists” access to the country in order to “kill innocent Syrians, blow up their properties and spread chaos and destruction.”

Syrian authorities blame the anti-government uprising that began in March last year on a foreign conspiracy and accuse Gulf countries Saudi Arabia and Qatar, along with the U.S, other Western countries and Turkey, of offering funding and training to the rebels, whom they describe as “terrorists.”

Turkey serves as headquarters for the leaders of the Free Syrian Army rebels and hosts many meetings of the Syrian National Council opposition group. Relations between Turkey and Syria, once allies, have been deteriorating since after the crisis began last year and Ankara became one of President Bashar Assad’s harshest critics. Although the conflict has left Syria internationally isolated, Iran has stood by Assad.

On Sunday, the top commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said the elite unit has high-level advisers in Lebanon and Syria but remains undecided on whether to send military reinforcements to help save Assad’s regime.

Also Sunday, state-run news agency SANA said rebels detonated a bomb under the highway near the southern town of Khirbet Ghazaleh and cut the highway that links Damascus with Daraa and the Jordanian capital of Amman.

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