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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Al Qaeda in Massive Iraqi Prison Raids

Al Qaeda said on Tuesday that it was responsible for two mass jailbreaks in Iraq, freeing more than 500 inmates in the operations. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as the Al Qaeda group in Iraq and Syria is known, had made freeing its imprisoned members a top priority. It deployed suicide bombers, rockets and 12 car bombs, killing 120 Iraqi guards and SWAT forces near Taji prison, north of Baghdad, and at the notorious Abu Ghraib Prison. The Iraqi Interior Ministry said 29 soldiers and policemen had been killed, with another 36 wounded. An Iraqi official heard by the Reuters news agencies said he believed the top Al Qaeda prisoners freed in the raids were on their way to Syria. “We are cooperating with the Ministry of Justice to get full descriptions and records of the fugitives to help recapture them and bring them back to prison”, said the source.

US Considers Options for Involvement in Syria

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said in a letter to Congress that American troops could undertake a number of different missions to help the Syrian rebel movement if asked to do so by the White House. He also warned that any campaign would be a vast undertaking, costing billions of dollars. The options range from training rebels to enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria, but the US administration is also preparing to begin shipping weapons to rebel forces in August. “All of these options would likely further the narrow military objective of helping the opposition and placing more pressure on the regime, Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid”, wrote Dempsey.

Nine Dead in Renewed Egyptian Clashes

Clashes between pro and anti-Morsi protesters in Cairo near the main campus of Cairo University left nine people dead, according to an official that heads the Health Ministry’s emergency and intensive care departments. Khaled el-Khateeb said the victims died close to the site of a pro-Morsi sit in. Witnesses at the sit-in told the BBC that those dead had been shot at by snipers placed on the rooftops nearby and that these gunmen had received support from government forces. The deaths occurred hours after a televised address by Egyptian Interim President Adly Mansour, who repeated calls for peace. “We want to turn a new page in the nation’s book of history, without rancour, hatred or confrontation”, he said.

Colombia, Venezuela Set Aside Diplomatic Dispute

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his Colombian counterpart, José Manuel Santos, met in Puerto Ayacucho, in Venezuela, on Monday and pledged to end a diplomatic dispute between the two countries. President Santos had met with defeated Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles last May, causing a spat between the two countries. “There are things that we do not agree on, but we have the immense obligation and responsibility to work together. That’s what we’re going to do”, said Santos. Maduro said he would help Colombia in its peace negotiations with the FARC leftist rebel group, Latin America’s longest running guerrilla insurgency. “You can count on our best efforts to ensure peace can be achieved”, said the Venezuelan president.

Tepco Admits Fukushima Radioactive Water Leaked to the Sea

Japanese utility company Tepco, operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, has admitted for the first time that the plant has leaked radioactive groundwater into the Pacific Ocean and that it doesn’t known the precise source of this contamination. Company spokesman Masayuki Ono said that plant officials discovered the leak when they noticed underground water levels at some suspected sites were fluctuating along with tide movements and rainfalls. He also said the leak has been contained near the plant in a local bay, with very little spread into the Pacific. “We are very sorry for causing concerns. We have made efforts not to cause any leak to the outside, but we might have failed to do so”, said Ono. Tepco has now begun to inject a chemical solution into the local coastal embankment to seal it and prevent more groundwater from seeping into the sea.

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