The UK drew up proposals to arm and train a 100,000-strong Syrian rebel army to defeat president Bashal al-Assad two years ago, the BBC’s Newsnight programme has revealed. The plan was put together by the UK’s most senior military officer and was considered by the PM and the National Security Council.
CEASEFIRE BETWEEN HAMAS AND ISRAEL DUE
Hamas will soon announce a ceasefire with Israel along the Gaza strip border, the BBC says. The truce has been brokered by Egyptian intelligence officers after the killing of three Israeli teenagers - and a possible revenge killing of one Palestinian - led to increased numbers of rockets and air strikes.
ROLF HARRIS WAITS TO HEAR SENTENCE
TV entertainer Rolf Harris will receive his sentence today after being found guilty of indecently assaulting four girls, including one who was seven or eight, over several decades. Sky News reports that the Australian left his house in Bray by boat on the Thames this morning, heading to court in London.
FLYOVER COLLAPSE IN BRAZIL WORLD CUP CITY
A concrete-and-steel flyover which was under construction in the World Cup host city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil has collapsed, killing at least 2 people and injuring 22. The huge bridge fell onto a busy highway, completely crushing one car which has not yet been reached and damaging a commuter bus.
LEEDS HOLDS TOUR DE FRANCE CEREMONY
The opening ceremony of the 101st Tour de France took place in Leeds, Yorkshire, yesterday, two days before the ‘Grand Depart’ when the race starts. Church bells rang out across the county as 198 riders from 22 top cycling teams paraded through the city. It is hoped the tour will bring £100m to the area.
ANDY COULSON FACES 18 MONTHS IN JAIL
Former News of the World editor and No 10 communications director Andy Coulson has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for conspiracy to hack phones. He will also face a retrial on a charge of buying royal telephone directories from police officers after the jury last week failed to reach a verdict on these charges.
SMARTPHONES ‘MAY POSE TERROR THREAT’
US officials have told airlines with direct flights to the US to examine smartphones more closely, singling out those made by Samsung and Apple, for fear that terrorists from the Yemeni ‘franchise’ of al-Qaeda have worked out a way to turn them into explosive devices which can escape detection.
WW2 HERO LOUIS ZAMPERINI DIES AT 97
Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete and WW2 veteran, has died at the age of 97. Born in New York, Zamperini met Hitler at the 1936 Olympics where he ran the 5,000m race. During the war, his plane was shot down and he survived 47 days in a raft and two years being tortured as a Japanese prisoner.
WILD CHIMP ‘SIGN LANGUAGE’ DECODED
Researchers have analysed chimps in the wild and decoded a ‘language’ of 66 gestures which the animals use to intentionally send each other 19 different messages. The scientists say chimps appear to be the only other species than humans which deliberately communicates messages to each other.
HOT TICKET: CYCLING WITH MOLIERE
French comedy, Cycling with Moliere, is released in UK cinemas today. A popular TV star tries to improve his artistic credibility by coaxing a reclusive actor to appear in his production of Moliere’s The Misanthrope, but egos soon get in the way. “A comic treat,” says Empire.