France acknowledged Wednesday that it airlifted weapons to Libyan civilians fighting Moammar Gadhafi's forces in a besieged mountain region south of Tripoli, becoming the first NATO country to do so in a major escalation in the international campaign.
The bold move was likely to draw criticism from countries leery of the allied use of force in Libya's civil war - like China and Russia - and crossed a threshold in hopes of a breakthrough in the protracted NATO-led mission.
The deliveries of guns, rocket-propelled grenades and munitions took place in early June in the western Nafusa mountains, when Gadhafi's troops had encircled civilians and his government refused a U.N request for a pause in the fighting there to allow access for a humanitarian aid shipment, French military spokesman Col. Thierry Burkhard said.
● TOKYO - A magnitude-5.4 earthquake rattled central Japan today and at least seven people were hurt. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake hit in Nagano, some 105 miles northwest of Tokyo. The quake was just 2.5 miles deep. No tsunami warning was issued, the agency said.
● VERACRUZ, Mexico - The first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season gained force as it headed for Mexico's central Gulf coast Wednesday evening, bringing a threat of floods and mudslides.
● CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela's government postponed next week's summit of Latin American leaders on Wednesday, citing President Hugo Chavez's health as he recovers from surgery in Cuba.
● CAIRO - Two days of street battles between security forces and protesters in Cairo show just how volatile Egypt remains nearly five months after the popular uprising that ousted authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.
Compiled from wire reports