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Iraqi, US Forces Start Offensive Against Al-Qaida


IRAQ: U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have launched a new offensive designed to wipe out al-Qaida in Iraq from one of its last strongholds.Officials say the operation began today with a series of raids in Baquba, the capital of Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad. U.S. military officials say Iraqi troops are leading the fight, with only minimal support from U.S. forces.Officials say similar operations elsewhere have contributed to a sharp decline in terrorist attacks.Meanwhile, police in Baghdad have increased security as hundreds of thousands or Shi'ite pilgrims make their way to a revered shrine, one day after three female suicide bombers killed at least 30 pilgrims, including children.

INDIA - PAKISTAN: India's army says Pakistani troops entered its side of the disputed Kashmir region and fired across the de facto border, killing an Indian soldier.An army spokesman says Monday's incident is a violation of a cease-fire agreement between the neighboring countries. The two sides continued fighting overnight. India says at least four Pakistani soldiers have been killed in the battle along the Line of Control separating Kashmir. Pakistan denies any of its soldiers were killed.Indian government officials say Pakistani troops crossed into Indian territory Monday because they objected to a new border post being built by the Indian army.

US - AL-QAIDA: A research center that often consults for the U.S. military says the United States needs to change its approach to fighting terrorism.The Rand Corporation says there is no "battlefield solution" to terrorism, and that the U.S. needs to rely more on police and intelligence agencies in order to defeat al-Qaida.The report, released today, analyzed more than 600 terrorists groups that have been disbanded since 1968, and found 40-percent were neutralized only after police and intelligence agencies apprehended or killed key leaders.It argues local police forces are better suited to infiltrate and disrupt terrorist organizations because of their permanent presence in areas where terrorists try to hide.

OLYMPIC TRUCE: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on all those who are at war to observe a two-week truce during the upcoming Olympic Games.The U.N. chief says the limited pause in hostilities could demonstrate to the world that peace is possible. Mr. Ban made the appeal Monday, endorsing a resolution adopted last October by the 192-member U.N. General Assembly. The resolution calls for a worldwide truce from August eighth to the 24th during the Summer Olympics, and from September sixth to the 17th during the Paralympic Games. A group of Olympic athletes issued a separate appeal earlier this month in support of a truce in Sudan.

AUSTRALIA - IMMIGRATION: Australia says it will halt a controversial policy of automatically locking up asylum seekers when they arrive in the country.Immigration Minister Chris Evans told reporters today that arrivals who pose no threat to the community will remain free while their visa status is resolved. He added that children and their families will no longer be held in detention centers.Evans rejected the previous government's claim that detention would deter illegal immigration to Australia. He said desperate people are not deterred by the threat of harsh detention, because they are often fleeing much worse circumstances.

SOKOR - US BEEF: The first shipment of American beef under a controversial import deal arrived in South Korea today.Officials said the one-point-five-ton shipment will undergo quarantine inspections for about two weeks before being released to local markets for sale next month.Tens of thousands of people have rallied almost daily in South Korea since early May against the deal, saying the government ignored fears of mad cow disease.Under new guidelines reached in April, the United States will export beef to South Korea only from cattle less than 30 months old. Older cattle are seen as potentially more at risk.

BURMA - INSURANCE: A human rights group opposed to Burma's military government says global insurance companies are insuring businesses that provide cash for the country's ruling generals.The Burma Campaign UK released a report today urging insurance companies including Lloyd's of London and Japan's Tokio Marine to stop underwriting policies issued by state-owned Myanma Insurance, the only provider of insurance policies in Burma.The report says global insurers have facilitated businesses such as airlines, natural gas pipelines, ports and shipping services, which provide revenue to the regime.

RUSSIA - US: Russia's Foreign Ministry announced today that President Dmitry Medvedev has appointed a new ambassador to the United States. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak, a career diplomat who was formerly Russia's top Iran nuclear negotiator, is Russia's new envoy to Washington. He has also served as Russia's ambassador to NATO.Kislyak replaces the previous ambassador to Washington, Yuri Ushakov, who left last month to take a senior government post in Moscow.

Listen to our World News for details.

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