U.S. offensive launched against Al-Qaida in Iraq

Sunday, October 2, 2005

QAIM, Iraq -- About 1,000 U.S. troops, backed by attack helicopters, swarmed into a tiny Iraqi village near the Syrian border Saturday in a new offensive aimed at rooting out fighters from the country's most feared militant group, the military said. The assault, the fourth major sweep since May in the border region, targeted the village of Sadah, which the military said had come under militant control and was a base for foreign fighters entering from Syria. The Sadah sweep, named Operation Iron Fist, aimed at breaking the militants' hold on the town and eliminating a way station for foreign fighters entering from Syria to improve security before Iraq's Oct. 15 referendum on a new constitution, the military said.

Hurricane Otis sparks flooding in Mexico

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico -- Hurricane Otis' outer bands lashed the coast of western Mexico on Saturday as the storm crawled toward the Baja California peninsula, forcing hundreds of families to evacuate their homes and flooding roads in this resort city. The Category 1 hurricane weakened but still had winds up to 85 mph as it headed northward off the coast of Baja. Forecasters expected Otis to skirt past Cabo San Lucas, and move ashore along a sparsely populated stretch of desert far north of here as early as this evening.

Bishops at synod tackle issue of priest shortage

VATICAN CITY -- Bishops from around the world begin tackling major issues facing the Roman Catholic Church today, including whether Holy Communion should be given to Catholic politicians who back abortion rights and to divorcees who remarry without getting an annulment. The priest shortage, and whether celibacy contributes to it, as well as dwindling Mass attendance also are expected to be discussed at the three-week Synod of Bishops.

Iranian president issues warning on oil sales

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Iran's president threatened to curtail oil sales if the country is referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions on its nuclear program, a newspaper reported Saturday. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted in an interview with the Khaleej Times that Iran's nuclear program was peaceful. But he warned the country would protect its right to a nuclear fuel supply. "If Iran's case is sent to the Security Council, we will respond by many ways, for example by holding back on oil sales," the president told the Dubai-based newspaper. The United States does not purchase Iranian oil, but it would be affected by a substantial Iranian curtailment of oil supplies as that would raise the price of oil on the world market.

-- From wire reports

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