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2012 International Year In Review: Fighting Continues In Many Embattled Regions, U.S. Consulate Attacked

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In international news this year, civil unrest, the bombing in Benghazi and economic uncertainty in Europe rocked the worldwide headlines. But it wasn't all bad news as Michael Phelps became the most decorated athlete in Olympics history and Prince William and wife Kate Middleton announce they are expecting. NY1's Cheryl Wills reviews the year's top international stories in the following report.

On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, a terrorist attack at the U.S. Consulate Compound in Benghazi, Libya killed four Americans including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three members of his diplomatic mission.

More than 100 gunmen launched rocket propelled grenades and numerous other weapons in the premeditated attack that started at nightfall.

An Islamic militia group with ties to "Al Qaeda" claimed responsibility for the attack, which is strongly condemned by the U.S. and Libya.

Fears that Iran is planning to build nuclear weapons sparked international outrage.

In August, nuclear inspectors issued reports that Tehran is aggressively constructing a deep underground site for the production of nuclear fuel. In a speech to the United Nations in September, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will work hard to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons.

Israel has urged the U.S. to take military action.

There was continued chaos and unrest in Syria in 2012, as rebels battled government forces for control.

In December, reports of heavy fighting between The Free Syrian Army and Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's forces cost more than 40,000 deaths in the embattled country. The Civil War in Syria started in March 2011.

Also in the Middle East, a steady barrage of protests have polarized Egypt ever since the removal of President Hosni Mubarak last year.

In June, the country had its first free elections and Mohammed Morsi won with 51 percent of the vote. But just five months later more than 200,000 protestors packed Tahrir Square calling for his removal after the Morsi was accused of unconstitutional power grabs.

In November the Israeli-Palestinian conflict erupted again as reports indicated Hamas launched rocket attacks upon civilian centers near The Gaza Strip. In total, 162 Palestinians and five Israelis were killed in the eight day clash.

Bangladesh is said to be the least expensive place in the world to make clothing and when a garment factory caught fire, killing 124 workers, the news sent shockwaves around the world about safety conditions for low wage workers.

The blaze now stands as the worst in that country's history.

In a landmark visit, President Barack Obama became the first sitting American President to visit Myanmar.

During his six hour stay in mid-November, he met with the Burmese President and urged the country to use its diversity as a strength rather than a weakness.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won re-election in October, but his health took a turn for the worse.

A recurrence of cancer sent him to a hospital in Cuba for surgery in December.

But there are doubts that he will be strong enough to begin his third term in January 2013.

There's finally cause for optimism throughout the European Union as the debt crisis starts to improve. Unstable banks and the global recession hammered countries like Greece, which needed a bailout this year, and Italy, whose national debt peaked in October at $2.6 trillion.

But in mid-December, some leaders of the Eurozone said the worst is finally over and 2013 looks promising.

The 2012 Summer Olympics in London made a royal splash. From the Queen officially opening the ceremonies to The Who's electrifying performance at the close, the event was widely hailed as a smashing success.

The crowning achievement, of course, goes to American swimmer Michael Phelps who walked away from the games as the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time.

Finally, the world watches and waits for the most talked about pregnancy in a generation as Prince William and his wife Kate announced they are expecting a baby.
It’s due probably next summer.

Another olympic-sized event for royal watchers.

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