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Sunday, August 6

Editor's Note: The CNN Wire is a running log of the latest news from CNN World Headquarters, reported by CNN's correspondents and producers, and The CNN Wire editors. "Posted" times are Eastern Daylight.

Lebanese officials: Israeli airstrike kills 7, wounds 1

BEIRUT (CNN) -- At least seven civilians were killed and one was wounded in an Israeli airstrike near the southern city of Sidon, Lebanese Internal Security sources said.

The Monday morning attack in al-Ghassaniye was reported to authorities around 6:30 a.m. (11:30 p.m. ET Sunday).

The strike came less than two days after Israel Defense Forces dropped leaflets on Sidon, urging civilians to evacuate.

In Tyre, CNN crews reported hearing "a series of heavy explosions" south of Tyre early Monday.

According to CNN's Kevin Flower, the explosions sounded like Israeli artillery shelling and could be strongly felt in the southern port city, starting shortly before 6 a.m. (11 p.m. Sunday ET).

Israeli warplanes also struck the southern suburbs of Lebanon's capital Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold, shortly before dawn. (posted 2:30 a.m.)

Sri Lanka accuses Tamil rebels in death of 15 NGO workers

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNN) -- The Sri Lankan government Monday accused Tamil Tiger rebels in the deaths of 15 humanitarian aid workers and a number of civilians in Mutur, near the northeastern port city of Trincomalee.

The bodies -- 11 male and 4 female -- were found Sunday after government forces regained control of the city, following days of fighting with the rebels.

"We have detailed a special police team to conduct investigations into civilian killings," said Keheliya Rambukwella, a government minister and defense spokesman. "We have evidence to show that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were responsible for the massacre of the NGO (nongovernmental organization) workers and a large number of civilians."

Jeevan Thiagarajah, the head of the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies, said all 15 aid workers were shot at close range. He called their deaths, "murder." (posted 2:30 a.m.)

Suicide bomber kills 15 in Tikrit

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- At least 15 people were killed and 17 were wounded Sunday when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a funeral procession in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, police said.

The incident occurred at 8 p.m. (1 p.m. ET) in the ancestral home of ousted President Saddam Hussein, about 160 km (100 mi) north of Baghdad.

The bomber blew himself up at a hall in the Qadisiyah neighborhood in central Tikrit, where people had gathered to mourn the death of the father of two men, one of them a provincial council member and the other a police officer. (posted 2:30 a.m.)

Egyptian militant group rejects al Qaeda claims

(CNN) -- An Egyptian militant group vigorously denied weekend assertions by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second-in-command, that the group's members had joined the ranks of the terrorist network.

In a statement posted on the Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya Web site Sunday, the group said "it absolutely rejects the claims in its entirety," calling them untrue.

Al-Zawahiri appeared in a videotaped message Saturday on the Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera.

He announced "good news to the Muslim nation about a big faction of the knights of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya uniting with al Qaeda." The union will "bring together the powers of the Muslim nation as one rank in the face of its enemies in the fiercest battle declared against the Muslim nation in its history." (posted 12:20 a.m)

Iraq bomb kills 3 U.S. troops

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in southwestern Baghdad Sunday evening, a U.S. military statement said.

All of the soldiers were members the Army's Multi-National Division - Baghdad. The attack took place around 8 p.m. (12 p.m. ET). Since the start of the war, the U.S. military has reported 2,590 fatalities. (Posted 11 p.m.)

Commander: Soldiers charged in Iraq killings sought help for stress

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The commander of a U.S. Army battalion in Iraq testified Sunday that several of those under his command who are charged with raping an Iraqi girl and killing her and her family had sought help for combat stress.

Lt. Col. Thomas Kunk estimated that 25 percent of the soldiers in his battalion suffered from combat stress and said three of the soldiers charged were "wallowing in self-pity" amid the violence and loss of comrades. But he stressed that most of the nearly 1,000 soldiers in his battalion were able to deal with the emotional rigors of war.

"The majority of the platoon, in my opinion, were able to accept the loss of their brothers in arms," he said.

Four soldiers from Kunk's battalion are charged with conspiring with a former soldier, Steven Green, to carry out the killings in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad. A fifth is charged with failing to report the deaths. (Posted 7:55 p.m.)

Mexican leftist's backers protest presidential recount ruling

MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the capital Sunday to protest Saturday's decision by the nation's top electoral court to reject calls for a complete recount of the election results.

Leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Obrador, who has blamed his paper-thin loss to conservative candidate Felipe Calderon on electoral fraud, asked the demonstrators to be calm, but to maintain the tent city and street blockades they had erected.

The court's judges voted instead for a recount of a small percentage of the 130,000 polling places. The demonstrators contend that Obrador is the rightful winner of the July 2 election. (Posted 6:25 p.m.)

GOP senator says 'no good options' left in Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States has "no good options" left in Iraq, and the war "is not going to turn out the way that we were promised it was," an increasingly outspoken Republican critic of the war said Sunday.

Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel said the United States needs to convoke a regional conference with Iraq's neighbors and the major players in the Middle East to find an end to the 3-year-old conflict, rather than leave U.S. troops in a "hopeless, winless situation" by trying to reinforce Baghdad. He told CBS' "Face the Nation" that the Army was being "decimated" in Iraq and that the Iraqi government needs to take over more responsibility.

"Unless you come at it that way, we're going to be leaving Iraq. And it's not going to be the way we intended to leave Iraq, because that is the direction this is going," he said. (Posted 6:15 p.m.)

Arab League won't condemn Hezbollah kidnappings, chief says

BEIRUT (CNN) -- The Arab League's top figure said Sunday the group would not condemn Hezbollah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers that sparked the Mideast crisis.

"Why should we? Why?" Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa asked in an interview with CNN. "We condemn the destruction of Lebanon."

Several Arab League members did criticize Hezbollah after the July 12 kidnappings that launched more than three weeks of fighting, but Moussa said Israel's actions in Lebanon have changed views throughout the Arab world.

"This destruction is killing people in this region and agitating them," he said, adding that Arabs -- from "the street" to heads of state "and the educated class" -- "are all angry. They are all agitated." (Posted 5:55 p.m.)

Human Rights Watch accuses Hezbollah of "war crimes"

NEW YORK (CNN) -- In a new report, Human Rights Watch accuses the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah of war crimes, calling on it to "immediately stop firing rockets into civilian areas in Israel."

The human rights group usually aims its criticisms at governments.

"Lobbing rockets blindly into civilian areas is without doubt a war crime," said Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth in the report released Saturday. "Nothing can justify this assault on the most fundamental standards for sparing civilians the hazards of war."

Human Rights Watch said most of the Hezbollah attacks were aimed at civilian areas and hit "pedestrians, hospitals, schools, homes and businesses."

A Human Rights Watch report last week criticized the Israel Defense Forces for failing to distinguish between combatants and civilians. (Posted 2:52 p.m.)

Haifa sustains heavy rocket barrage; 3 dead, 65 wounded

HAIFA, Israel (CNN) -- A heavy barrage of rockets pounded Haifa late Sunday, killing at least three people including a woman who died when a rocket struck her home in an Arab neighborhood, according to police and ambulance services.

Rescue workers are searching for others believed to be trapped underneath the rubble of the residential building, partially destroyed by the rocket.

"The whole front of the building is not there anymore," CNN's Paula Hancocks reported from the scene.

Medics said at least eight others were seriously wounded in the building collapse.

It was one of six rockets that struck Haifa, Israel's third largest city, after nightfall between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. (12 p.m. and 1 p.m. ET), police said.

Israeli ambulance services said 65 people were wounded in the attacks and taken to hospitals.

Overall Sunday, Hezbollah fired more than 180 rockets into northern Israel, Israel's foreign ministry spokeswoman Gen. Ruth Yaron told CNN. (Updated, 2:26 p.m.)

Kidnapped toddler found in Philadelphia park

(CNN) -- An Amber Alert was canceled Sunday when a kidnapped 18-month-old boy was found safe in a Philadelphia park, Philadelphia police said.

The kidnappers apparently dropped off Dowyane Reid Jr. in the park after abducting him earlier Sunday in a home invasion, said Det. Lawrence Greene.

A demanded $300,000 ransom for the safe return of the boy was never paid and the kidnappers remained at-large, Greene said.

The incident began just before 6 a.m. Sunday, when as many as 10 armed men broke into a northwest Philadelphia house, pistol whipped the child's father and cousin, locked the mother and daughter into a closet and fled with the toddler, Greene told CNN.

The baby's father and cousin were treated at a hospital and released. (Posted, 2:24 p.m.)

IDF: All 12 killed in Kfar Giladi rocket strike were soldiers

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- In the deadliest single Hezbollah rocket attack on northern Israel since hostilities began last month, 12 Israeli soldiers were killed Sunday in a rocket strike near Kfar Giladi, according to the Israel Defense Forces

The soldiers were part of a reserve unit which had just been called up to fight in Lebanon, the IDF said. (Posted, 2:10 p.m.)

Israel says it has Hezbollah kidnapper in custody

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- After Israel announced Sunday it had captured one of the Hezbollah militants responsible for abducting two soldiers last month, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres signaled his country was open to talking about prisoner exchange -- something the Jewish state has steadfastly opposed.

Speaking on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," Peres said he was not necessarily hoping to exchange the Hezbollah kidnapper for the two Israeli soldiers who were abducted inside Israel, but did not rule out the possibility.

"We think they were captured on our land without any reason, and we don't feel that we have to compensate the Hezbollah because they took hostage two of our soldiers," he told

"But if then Lebanon would like to talk about exchange of prisoners, we are always ready to."

Peres' statement appeared to be a softening of Israel's earlier stance that it would not release Hezbollah militants from Israeli jails in exchange for Hezbollah's release of the two Israeli soldiers.

On July 12, Hezbollah militants crossed into Israel, killed three Israeli soldiers and abducted Ehud Goldwasser, 31, and Eldad Regev, 26.

The act sparked the ongoing war between Israel and the Lebanese militia. (Posted, 12:35 p.m.)

IDF: Israeli daylight airstrikes target southern Beirut suburbs

BEIRUT (CNN) -- In a rare daylight raid, the Israeli military Sunday carried out airstrikes on Hezbollah targets in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Lebanese army sources said two of the strikes were in Haret Hreik, where Hezbollah's headquarters are located, and in Beer El-Abed.

A plane carrying Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa landed at Beirut's airport near the southern suburbs around the time the airstrikes began, about 5 p.m. (10 a.m. ET), Lebanese presidential office sources told CNN.

The sources said Moussa's plane landed safely and everyone aboard was unharmed. (Posted, 11 a.m.)

Article 32 hearing begins for 4 soldiers charged in rape, killings

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A preliminary hearing began Sunday for four U.S. soldiers charged in connection with the rape and slaying of an Iraqi female and the killings of her family earlier this year in Mahmoudiya, Iraq.

Four witnesses took the stand on the first day of the Article 32 hearing at Camp Victory near Baghdad, including an Iraqi army medic who gave graphic testimony about the state of the bodies.

The media also heard testimony from the soldiers' battalion commander Lt. Col. Thomas Kunk who interviewed several of the soldiers in the initial investigation.

Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, Spec. James P. Barker, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, and Pfc. Bryan L. Howard were all charged with conspiring with former Pfc. Steven D. Green to commit the crimes, the military said.

The four could face the death penalty, the military has said. (Updated, 1:10 p.m.)

Rice hopes for U.N. vote soon: "Then we'll see who is for peace"

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday she hopes the United Nations will vote on a resolution in the next couple of days that could bring about a cessation of violence. "Then we'll see who is for peace and who isn't," she said.

The resolution would likely not lead to a complete halt to fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, but could end the kind of "large-scale violence" taking place in Israel and Lebanon, such as Hezbollah's rocket attacks and Israel's major military offensives, Rice said.

The resolution will include something that would not have been included two weeks ago, she said -- "a political basis for creating those conditions in which Lebanon can flow its authority south."

The goal, she said, is to lay the groundwork for Lebanon to take responsibility for the south of its country, rather than having Hezbollah control that region.

Many have called for an immediate cease-fire, but the United States has been clear there had to be a political basis to ensure the cesation "was not going to countenance a return to the status quo ante," she said.

When a new resolution is put through, Rice said, "We're going to see who is for peace and who isn't." (Posted, 9:18 a.m.)

3 Chinese U.N. peacekeepers wounded in strike

BEIRUT (CNN) -- Three Chinese United Nations peacekeepers were "moderately" wounded when the U.N. headquarters in Lebanon were hit with mortars, said UNIFIL spokesman Milos Strugar.

Officials said the Chinese contingent base at Henniye, north of Masraat al Biyada, was struck by a Hezbollah shell. The peacekeepers have not been evacuated.

The casualties come amid an increase in clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli troops as Israel target Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon. (Posted 7:09 a.m.)

12 tortured bodies found in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Twelve bullet-riddled bodies showing signs of torture were found by Iraqi police in various Baghdad neighborhoods Sunday, according to Baghdad emergency police.

Police said they could not immediately identify the bodies. (Posted 6:25 a.m.)

Afghan president swears in Supreme Court at palace

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Members of the Supreme Court in Afghanistan were sworn in Saturday by Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace days after four Canadian soldiers were ambushed and killed in southern Afghanistan.

The Parliament of Afghanistan earlier approved the nominations of Abdul Salaam Azimi as chief justice and head of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan and named Ali Behsoudi, Muhammad Umar Babrakzai, Ghulam Nabi Nawabi and Abdul Rashid Rashid as members, a statement from Karzai's office said.

Karzai called the swearing in ceremony a "significant achievement towards improving the country's judicial system," and thanked the parliament for voting in the new members.

The ceremony comes on the cusp of a NATO announcement stating four Canadian soldiers were killed and 10 wounded near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar in three incidents Thursday, while 21 civilians were killed by a suicide bomb in the same area. (Posted 5:47 a.m.)

Lebanese death toll close to 700

BEIRUT (CNN) -- Lebanese Internal Security Forces reported Sunday that 693 Lebanese, mostly civilians, have been killed in three weeks of battles between Israel and Hezbollah. The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday the Israeli death toll stands at 79 -- 33 civilians and 46 soldiers.

Israeli ambulance services said more than 700 civilians and soldiers have been wounded, while Lebanese forces reported more than 2,700 Lebanese people sustained injuries.

The Lebanese Army has said 27 soldiers have been killed and hundreds wounded since the onset of attacks.

The IDF said it has killed "approximately" 400 Hezbollah fighters in the military campaign. Hezbollah has consistently denied Israel's casualty figures.

An estimated 880,000 people have been displaced by the conflict, according to the Lebanese government's Higher Relief Committee. (Posted 5:04 a.m.)

Israeli airstrikes pummel southern Lebanese villages

BEIRUT (CNN) -- At least five civilians were killed and at least six wounded in Israeli airstrikes on the village of Ansar in southern Lebanon Sunday morning, Lebanon's Internal Security Forces said.

Three people died in an airstrike later Sunday morning in Naqoura and airstrikes were launched on Al Jabal Al Rafeea, Al-Jarmak, Mahmoudiya, Majra Al Letani, El-Qlaileh, Ras el Biyada, Mansouri, Milikiya, Shaitaye, Hosh and areas in Khiyam, Arab-language networks reported. All are in southern Lebanon.

Israeli army confirmed an unspecified number of casualties resulted in the clashes in Ras el Biyada.

A witness on the ground in Tayba said after engaging in an attack in the southern Lebanese town, Israel pulled out 10 tanks and left behind three destroyed ones, Hezbollah-run Al Manar said.

In the southern villages of Miskaf and Odaise, Al Manar reported Hezbollah killed an unspecified number of Israeli soldiers and destroyed their two tanks and two cars. (Posted 4:35 a.m.)

Israeli airstrikes pummel Lebanese villages

BEIRUT (CNN) -- At least five civilians were killed and at least six wounded in Israeli airstrikes on the village of Ansar in southern Lebanon Sunday morning, Lebanon's Internal Security Forces said.

Three Lebanese people died in an airstrike later Sunday morning in Naqoura in southern Lebanon and massive airstrikes were launched on Al Jabal Al Rafeea, a mountainous area in southern Lebanon, Arab-language networks reported.

A witness on the ground in Tayba said after engaging in an attack in the southern Lebanese town, Israel pulled out 10 tanks and left behind three destroyed ones, Hezbollah-run Al Manar said. (Posted 3:46 a.m.)

5 civilians killed in airstrikes

BEIRUT (CNN) -- At least five civilians were killed and at least six wounded in Israeli airstrikes on the village of Ansar in southern Lebanon early Sunday, Lebanon's Internal Security Forces said. (Posted 2:12 a.m.)

Al Jazeera: Israel launches airstrike on Tyre

BEIRUT (CNN) -- Israel launched another airstrike on the southern Lebanese port city Tyre Sunday morning after peppering the streets with leaflets warning that Hezbollah positions would be targeted, Arab-news network Al Jazeera reported.

The strike comes a day after Israeli naval commandos took out a Hezbollah rocket-launching operation in a Tyre apartment building. The ground assault resulted in no civiilan deaths, but eight Israeli troops were injured, the military said.

IDF: 1 soldier killed in Hezbollah attack

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- One Israeli soldier was killed and another seriously wounded in a house struck by a Hezbollah anti-tank missile in the southern Lebanese village of Aita Al-Shaab Saturday, Israel Defense Forces said.

At least 20 soldiers sustained minor injuries in the gunbattle that followed, IDF said. (Posted 1:22 a.m.)

Lebanese TV: 5 civilians killed in airstrikes

BEIRUT (CNN) -- At least five civilians died in Israeli airstrikes on the village of Ansar in southern Lebanon early Sunday, Arab-news networks New TV and Nabih Berri News reported. (Posted 12:58 a.m.)

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