The Syrian government has condemned what it said was a U.S. helicopter raid inside its territory on October 26, resulting in eight civilian deaths. The statement said: “Syria condemns this aggression and holds the American forces responsible for this aggression and all its repercussions.” Syrian sources said the U.S. helicopters attacked the Sukkariyeh farm near Abu Kamal, five miles from the Iraqi border.
Pakistani officials in Washington announced on October 23 that their government will supply arms to tribal militia in its northwestern tribal region, which lies along the border with Afghanistan. The region, known officially as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, has seen much violence in recent years as terrorist units affiliated with the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda have crossed the mountainous border fleeing from U.S. forces operating in Afghanistan.
The U.S. military aind Iraqi authorites held a ceremony on October 23 marking the transfer of security responsibility for the province of Babil from the U.S. military to the Iraqi government. Babil is the 12th of 18 Iraqi provinces to be transferred to Iraqi control. The transfer-of-power ceremony was held in the provincial capital, Hilla, located near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon.
Iraq's cabinet said on October 21 it would demand changes in the proposed security agreement between the United States and Iraq, raising doubts that the document would quickly be approved. The United Nations Security Council resolution that authorizes American troop operations in Iraq expires on December 31, and unless an agreement can be reached by then, or the Security Council votes to extend the existing resolution, American troops would be required to cease operations in Iraq on that date.
In recent days, as many as 15 Christians have been slain in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, prompting the Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to dispatch 1,000 police to the violence-plagued city. The prime minister’s office said in a statement that units of the Iraqi army and police were being sent to the Mosul area “to provide protection for members of this community” and that the forces would “target the terrorist groups” responsible for the attacks. Police reported that two car bombs blew up in Mosul on October 12, killing seven Iraqis.
One day after the United States announced on October 11 that it was removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, the North Koreans announced that they would resume disabling the communist nation’s principal plutonium processing plant at its Yongbyon compound and allow international monitors back to the site.
According to a confidential statement made by diplomats associated with the International Atomic Energy Agency on October 9, the North Korean government has barred UN monitoring of its Yongbyon nuclear complex. The diplomats made anonymous statements to both Reuters news service and the Associated Press, citing confidentiality.
The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna announced on September 24 that North Korea had barred United Nations inspectors from a reprocessing plant at its nuclear reactor plant in Yongbyon. The plant converts spent nuclear fuel rods into weapons-grade plutonium. By its decision, North Korea has reneged on an agreement reached in February 2007.
In the wake of the tainted toothpaste and pet food scandals, thousands of infants have been sickened in China by contaminated powdered milk. So far, two infants have died from the product that has been contaminated with melamine, the same agent that was found to have contaminated pet food sold in the United States.
“There has been no deal with China to censor the Internet,” stated International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Giselle Davies according to Associated Press. The controversy began, AP reported on July 31, “when Kevan Gosper, the press commission head of the IOC, said he was surprised to learn that Web sites for Amnesty International along with others … would be blocked to reporters,” and also said he suspected that “an agreement has been reached” with China “by very senior people in the IOC.”
At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, female gymnasts He Kesin, Yang Yilin, and Jiang Yuyuan electrified the Chinese with their stellar performances. But even as China celebrated, controversy was brewing over whether or not the athletes met the age requirements for competition established by the International Gymnastics Federation.