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U.S. bases in Iraq take precautions against attack by Iranian-backed militants

Wednesday, July 14, 2010; A10

IRAQ

U.S. bases take precautions against threat

The U.S. military has beefed up security at some of its bases after a threat that an Iranian-backed militant group was planning attacks, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq said Tuesday.

Men from Kataib Hezbollah, a Shiite group that U.S. officials say is trained and funded by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, crossed into Iran for training and returned to conduct attacks as U.S. troop levels drop over the summer, Gen. Ray Odierno said in a briefing. By September, 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq.

"This is another attempt by Iran and others to influence the U.S. role here," Odierno said.

The general said Iranian-backed militant groups seem focused mainly on attacking U.S. troops and do not pose a long-term threat to the Iraqi government. He also reaffirmed that the U.S. troop withdrawal remains on track, adding that Iraq needs mostly political and economic support.

"For us, it's about eliminating the environment that allows extremism to exist. . . . That environment will get eliminated through economic and political progress," Odierno said. "We're not abandoning Iraq. We're changing our commitment from military-dominated to one that is civilian-led."

-- Leila Fadel

YEMEN

Detainee sent home from Guantanamo

The Obama administration said Tuesday it has repatriated a Yemeni detainee who was held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, partially lifting its suspension of all transfers to Yemen after a federal judge found "overwhelming evidence" that the man had been held illegally for more than eight years.

President Obama banned transfers to Yemen after the attempted Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner was linked to al-Qaeda supporters there.

Mohammed Odaini was a 17-year-old student in Pakistan in March 2002 when he was detained at a house he happened to visit on the night it was raided. Pakistani authorities turned Odaini over to the United States. He continued to be held even though both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations cleared him for release.

-- Peter Finn

NORTHERN IRELAND

82 police officers hurt in 2 nights of clashes

Leaders of Northern Ireland's power-sharing coalition on Tuesday condemned Irish nationalist rioters who injured 82 police officers during two nights of street clashes sparked by the province's annual Protestant parades.

The violence in working-class Catholic areas came before and after tens of thousands of Protestants of the Orange Order brotherhood marched at 18 locations across Northern Ireland.

Democratic Unionist Party leader Peter Robinson and his Catholic deputy, former IRA commander Martin McGuinness, issued a joint statement denouncing what Robinson called the rioters' "thuggery and vandalism."

-- Associated Press

ISRAEL

Gaza-bound aid ship diverts to Egypt

A Libyan boat carrying supplies for the Gaza Strip was sailing toward the Egyptian port of El Arish late Tuesday instead of trying to run a naval blockade of the Palestinian territory, Israeli military officials said, apparently defusing a potential confrontation on the high seas.

Also Tuesday, Israeli bulldozers destroyed six buildings, including at least three homes, in contested East Jerusalem, resuming the demolition of Palestinian property after a halt aimed at encouraging peace talks.

-- Associated Press

N. Korean talks may be held Thursday: Pentagon officials suggested Tuesday that North Korea may reschedule for Thursday talks with the U.S.-led U.N. Command -- which oversees the Korean War truce -- over the sinking of a South Korean warship. North Korea postponed Tuesday's meeting with little explanation.

More Cuban dissidents set to leave for Spain: Four former political prisoners were due to leave Cuba with their families Tuesday night, bound for Spain, a human rights activist in Havana said. Seven dissidents arrived with their families in Madrid, the first of 52 dissidents the Cuban government has promised to free.

Hundreds held in anti-Mafia raids in Italy: Italian police arrested at least 320 people in dawn raids across the country targeting the powerful Calabrian mafia known as the 'Ndrangheta in one of the biggest crackdowns on organized crime in years.

-- From news services

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