- The Washington Times - Monday, July 5, 2004

IRAQ

Islamists break up pro-Saddam rally

FALLUJAH — Islamist militants prevented a group of Saddam Hussein loyalists from holding a march yesterday to show solidarity with the ousted Iraqi dictator.

About 20 cars with armed, masked mujahideen forced about 100 people gathered for the rally to disperse. Islamic radicals were frequently targeted by Saddam and have little sympathy for the former leader, who appeared before a court last week.

“God gave victory to Fallujah, because it’s a Muslim [city], because it’s applying Islamic law,” one of the militants said, according to witnesses. “We don’t want our victory to go to Saddam.”

GAZA STRIP

Survey finds doubts about Egyptian role

JERUSALEM — Almost half of Palestinians oppose Egypt’s offer of a security role in the Gaza Strip if Israel withdraws settlers, according to a poll released yesterday.

The poll found surging popularity for Islamic militants, who think that Egyptian security forces could tie their hands in a conflict with Israel if it keeps Gaza sealed off and effectively annexes parts of the West Bank after a pullout.

Egypt has offered to send up to 200 security experts to Gaza to help maintain order after Jewish settlers leave. Fifty-one percent of Gaza Palestinians favored an Egyptian presence, with 46 percent opposed, the poll found.

TURKEY

Military observers leaving northern Iraq

ISTANBUL — Turkey is withdrawing the last of its military observers from northern Iraq, where they had been deployed since 1997 to oversee a cease-fire between two rival Kurdish factions, a government official said yesterday.

There will be no reduction, however, in the several thousand Turkish soldiers who have been hunting Turkish Kurdish rebels in the mountains of northern Iraq for years, the official said.

The Turkish military observers were sent to supervise a truce between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdish Democratic Party. The official said the withdrawal would take place in the coming days.

LIBYA

Secret services find al Qaeda-linked camp

PARIS — Libyan secret services have discovered a desert operations camp belonging to an Algerian Islamic militant group linked to al Qaeda, a French newspaper said yesterday.

Le Journal du Dimanche said Libyan agents found the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) camp 10 days ago in the mountainous region of Tibesti, which spans Libya’s southern border with Chad.

The newspaper said the GSPC was recruiting in the region and buying weapons with ransom money paid for the release of European tourists taken hostage in the Algerian Sahara last year.

VATICAN CITY

Pope offers hopes for happy holidays

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II yesterday, preparing for his Alps vacation, offered wishes for relaxing holidays for families going on summer vacations.

John Paul leaves today for Valle D’Aosta, in northwest Italy, where he will stay in a mountain chalet in the shadow of Mont Blanc until July 17. He will spend the rest of the summer in the papal palace at Castel Gandolfo.

“While I get ready for these brief holidays, my thought goes to the families who have planned their vacation in this period — to all, I hope they spend it in serene relaxation,” the pope said.

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