Turkish commandos are patrolling the snowy, mountainous region of northern Iraq today (Sunday) as a major ground operation targeting Kurdish rebels continues for a third day. Turkish fighter jets are also in the skies above the border region. The leadership of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq has warned Turkey not to target civilians during its military operations in Iraq, saying there will be large-scale resistance if civilians are harmed. There have been no reports of civilian casualties since Turkey began its military incursion late Thursday. But Iraq's foreign minister (Hoshyar Zebari) says the Turkish military has destroyed five bridges.
CUBA POL: Cuba's National Assembly will meet today (Sunday) to name a successor to Fidel Castro, who announced his retirement early Tuesday after ruling the communist island nation for nearly 50 years. Illness forced the 81-year-old Mr. Castro to hand power over to his younger brother, Raul, in 2006. The Assembly is likely to name Raul Castro as the country's next president. Fidel Castro will remain the head of Cuba's Communist Party.
Voters in Cyprus are going to the polls (today/Sunday) to choose a new president. The incumbent president, Tassos Papadopoulos, was eliminated in a first round of voting last week. Papadopoulos's Democratic Party has endorsed the Communist Party candidate, Demetris Christofias. Most observers expect a close race between Christofias and conservative candidate, Ioannis Kasoulides. Both have campaigned on promises to re-start talks with Turkish Cypriots to reunify the war-partitioned island.
Malaysian politicians began campaigning today (Sunday) for next month's general elections, with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi vowing that his ruling coalition will take a two-thirds majority in parliament. Mr. Abdullah's ruling National Front took six of the 222 parliamentary seats today, after they went uncontested by the opposition. The three main opposition parties have agreed to field just one candidate against the National Front for each seat, so as not to compete against one another to the benefit of the ruling party.
PHILIPPINES POL: Philippine President Gloria Arroyo denied today (Sunday) that her family was involved in government deals, and she promised to hold any corrupt officials accountable. In her statement, Mrs. Arroyo said she was not perfect, but that she worked every day to achieve positive and lasting change for the nation. President Arroyo has been defending her administration against allegations that her husband and the country's former election chief accepted bribes and kickbacks connected to a 330 million-dollar telecommunications deal with a Chinese firm.
Audio in Lao.