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Sunday, August 13

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.

Cease-fire begins; Israel says air, sea embargo still in place

BEIRUT (CNN) -- A U.N.-brokered cease-fire took effect Monday morning after 33 days of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, although both sides launched final attacks only minutes ahead of the deadline.

In the meantime, Israel promised to keep a tight rein on the region with military officials saying the army will continue enforcing the air and sea embargo on Lebanon.

Just two hours before the truce started, Israel papered Beirut with propaganda leaflets, blaming Hezbollah for bringing "destruction, displacement and death" to Lebanon and calling the militant group a puppet of Iran and Syria.

Israel and Hezbollah continued to trade blows across southern Lebanon and northern Israel as the clock ticked toward the 8 a.m. deadline (1 a.m. ET), trying to inflict as much maximum damage as possible in the final hours of the conflict. (Posted 1:25 a.m.)

11 Egyptian students in U.S. custody

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal agents apprehended the final two of 11 Egyptian students who went missing in the United States two weeks ago, a Department of Homeland Security statement said Sunday evening.

"At roughly 8:45 PM Eastern Time tonight, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents arrested Egyptian nationals Mohamed Saleh Ahmed Maray, age 20, and Mohamed Ibrahim Fouaad El Shenawy, age 17, at an apartment building in Richmond," the statement said.

A preliminary investigation "has not identified any credible or imminent threat posed by any of the 11 Egyptian students," the FBI said last week. The agency also stressed that there are no ties between the Egyptians and the suspected terror plot announced Thursday by British and U.S. authorities, The Associated Press reported.

The 11 male students were part of a group of 17 that arrived at New York's John F. Kennedy airport July 29 for an exchange program at Montana State University. All had valid student visas, but only six showed up for class, authorities said. (Posted 1:30 a.m.)

Gates urges more focus on AIDS prevention

TORONTO (CNN) -- Bill and Melinda Gates opened the International AIDS Conference on Sunday with a call to focus more efforts on preventing the spread of the infection, particularly in women, calling treatment alone unaffordable in the long run.

The couple, whose charitable foundation has pledged half a billion dollars to fight the disease in poor countries, delivered the keynote address at the 16th annual AIDS prevention conference. Bill Gates said it would cost $13 billion a year to treat all of the 38.6 million people the United Nations says is infected with HIV, with about 4 million new infections reported each year.

"There is no feasible way to do what morality requires -- treat everyone with HIV -- unless we dramatically reduce the number of new infections," he said. "The harsh mathematics of this epidemic proves that prevention is essential to expanding treatment. Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainiable." (Posted 11 p.m.)

Widespread power outage hits Tokyo rush hour

TOKYO (CNN) -- A widespread power outage hit central and western Tokyo for a brief period Monday morning, shutting down some of the Japanese capital's subway and commuter trains during rush hour, the city's electric utility reported.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company said its technicians were trying to determine the cause of the outage, which hit about 7:40 a.m. (6:40 p.m. Sunday ET). Most power was restored within 40 minutes, the company said.

The full scope of the outage in the city of about 13 million had not yet been determined, the utility said. But the central Satagaya and Shibuya districts and the western Shinagawa area were among those hit. (Posted 9:30 p.m.)

Britain lowers terror alert after airline plot arrests

LONDON (CNN) -- Britain has lowered its terrorist threat level from "critical" to "severe," three days after police there said they had foiled a plot to blow up as many as 10 commercial airliners, British authorities said late Sunday.

The Home Office confirmed the move, which followed the arrests of 23 people in connection with the disrupted plot, police said. The suspects planned to mix a sports drink with a gel-like substance to create an explosive that could then be triggered with an iPod or cell phone, a senior U.S. congressional source told CNN.

All of those items could have been carried on board without raising any suspicions. Authorities in Britain and the United States imposed tight security on trans-Atlantic flights after Thursday's announcement, sharply restricting what passengers can carry on flights. (Posted 8 p.m.)

Oregon helicopter crash kills 3

(CNN) -- All three people aboard a helicopter died Sunday when it crashed on the northern Oregon coast, the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard Group Astoria said it began recovering the bodies shortly after the Robinson R-44 helicopter crashed at 8 a.m. (11 a.m. ET). Low clouds and poor visibility hampered the effort.

The crash occurred off Camp Rilea Armed Forces Training Facility in Warrenton as the helicopter was flying alongside a second helicopter, which was not involved in the crash, the Coast Guard said in a written statement.

The victims were identified as being from southern California. Their names were withheld pending identification by the Clatsop County Medical Examiner and notification of family members. (Posted 5:15 p.m.)

Baghdad bombs kill 57 as U.S., Iraq launch new sweep

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraqi and U.S. troops launched an extensive sweep of two Baghdad neighborhoods Sunday in an attempt to stop a wave of sectarian killings that has left thousands dead in the Iraqi capital, U.S. commanders announced.

The move came as a string of explosions ripped through a Shiite Muslim district of southeastern Baghdad, killing 57 people and wounding nearly 150, according to Baghdad's emergency police. In another incident, six Iraqis were reported kidnapped by militants from a central Baghdad hospital.

U.S. and Iraqi troops plan to search about 4,000 homes and businesses in Baghdad's Amariya neighborhood, a mostly Sunni district of western Baghdad, with other operations focusing on the Shiite district of Shula to the north. Shula is a stronghold of the Mehdi Army, the militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and many Sunni residents have moved out in recent months.

"The operations are designed to reduce the level of murders, kidnappings, assassinations, terrorism and sectarian violence in northwest Baghdad and to reinforce the Iraqi government's control in Iraq's capital city," the U.S. command in Baghdad reported. (Posted 5 p.m.)

Heathrow travel woes prolonged after terror scare

LONDON (CNN) -- Three days after authorities uncovered an alleged plot to blow up airliners over the Atlantic and imposed tight restrictions on what passengers can carry aboard flights, air traffic at London's Heathrow Airport remained snarled Sunday, with airlines canceling as many as 30 percent of their flights.

Most of the cancellations at the world's busiest international airport were limited to short-haul flights, but departures of long-haul flights were delayed for hours. That meant inconvenience at best for nearly all of the almost 200,000 passengers who pass daily through the airport and for the airport workers.

On Saturday, some would-be passengers checked their bags only to find their flights had been canceled until Sunday. "You turn your underpants around in the morning and you turn them the other way around and that's as close as you get to clean," one man said. (Posted 4:55 p.m.)

Survey: Gas prices up a penny to new record high

(CNN) -- Gas prices went up one cent over the past three weeks to a new record high of $3.03 for a gallon of self-serve regular, according to a survey published Sunday.

The Lundberg Survey found the average price was more than a penny higher than it was Sept. 9, 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which set a record high in dollar terms at the time. Gas prices topped that mark three weeks ago, at $3.02.

When adjusted for inflation, however, the current prices is 13 cents below the all-time peak of March 1981, said publisher Trilby Lundberg. At that time, a gallon of self-serve regular cost $1.38, which comes out to $3.16 in today's dollars, she said. (Posted 4:30 p.m.)

IDF: 5 soldiers killed in Sunday fighting

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The Israel Defense Forces said five soldiers were killed Sunday in heavy fighting against Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon.

Another 25 soldiers were wounded, including four seriously, IDF said.

Most of the casualties -- including four of the deaths -- were the result of an anti-tank missile fired at ground forces in the village of Abu Tawil, according to IDF.

The fifth soldier was killed when a mortar shell hit his tank in the village of Tel Nahes, IDF said.

Fighting continued in the towns of Aita Al-Shaab, Kantara and Randuriya.

On Saturday, fighting claimed the lives of 24 Israeli soldiers, including five killed when Hezbollah fighters shot down their helicopter, according to the IDF. (Posted 2:38 p.m.)

Castro birthday message: 'I am feeling great'

HAVANA (CNN) -- Photographs and a written message from Cuban leader Fidel Castro published Sunday, his 80th birthday, suggest he is recovering from the illness that prompted him to temporarily hand over power to his younger brother Raul two weeks ago.

Separately, in his first public appearance since he was named to the post, Raul Castro was videotaped Sunday greeting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the airport in Havana. Chavez is in Havana to celebrate the elder Castro's birthday.

"I am feeling great," Fidel Castro wrote in his birthday message published in Sunday's edition of Cuba's official Communist Party newspaper Granma.

He said his "stability has improved considerably," but he is still at risk and his recovery will take a while longer.

"To everyone who wished me good health, I promise I will fight for it," Castro said.

Four color photos showed Castro wearing a red, white and blue Adidas running suit. (Posted 2:13 p.m.)

Iraqi, U.S. soldiers surround Health Ministry in search of kidnapped Iraqis

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraqi soldiers and their U.S. counterparts cordoned off a Ministry of Health building early Sunday after receiving a tip that six Iraqis had been kidnapped from a Baghdad hospital and taken there, according to a U.S. military news release.

The Iraqi citizen who called in the tip around 12:45 a.m. (4:45 p.m. Saturday ET) said 15 insurgents wearing Iraqi army uniforms kidnapped the Iraqis from Medical City Hospital's emergency room and took them to the Ministry of Health complex.

Iraqi army and Multi-National Division-Baghdad soldiers surrounded the complex around 2:30 a.m.

None of the kidnapped Iraqis were found inside the complex, however five people identified by the tipster were taken in for questioning, the release said.

Iraqi security forces are continuing to investigate the incident. (Posted 1:50 p.m.)

Lebanese cabinet meeting postponed

BEIRUT (CNN) -- The Lebanese cabinet postponed its meeting Sunday to discuss implementing the U.N. resolution aimed at ending fighting between Hezbollah and Israel.

A Lebanese government minister said the meeting was postponed one to two days at the request of parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri, a key negotiator with Hezbollah. The postponement will give government officials more time to meet with Hezbollah leadership to discuss details of implementing the U.N. resolution, the Lebanese minister said.

But sources in Berri's office denied that he had requested the postponement. (Posted 1:43 p.m.)

TSA 'tweaks' list of banned carry-on items

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Three days after banning flyers from carrying liquids, gels and lotions past security checkpoints and onto airplanes, the Transportation Security Administration announced Sunday several "tweaks" that would allow passengers to board with small doses of liquid medications.

In addition, the agency said it will now demand that all passengers remove their shoes so they may be x-rayed.

Under the new rules, travelers can take up to four ounces of non-prescription medicine, glucose gel for diabetics, solid lipstick and baby food, the agency said.

All aerosols are prohibited.

"The refinements we are announcing are based on feedback from our security officers, the public and our partners," said TSA Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley in a written statement. "We are maintaining the same level of security while clarifying interpretations in the field. These tweaks are aimed at making a smoother process at the checkpoint."

TSA first ordered the ban on liquids, gels and lotions after the overseas arrests of people allegedly involved in a plot to blow up planes flying from the United Kingdom to the United States. (Posted 1:42 p.m.)

20 dead in coordinated attacks on Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A series of five blasts -- including a suicide bomber and other explosive devices-- rocked a Shiite district in southeastern Baghdad Sunday within an hour, killing 20 people and wounding 75 others, a Baghdad emergency police official said.

Most of the casualties were civilians, including women and children, the official said.

The five explosions detonated in the Zafaraniya district between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET). The targets included shops, restaurants, and a police patrol.

The explosions were caused by a rocket, a car bomb, two other bombs, and a suicide motorcycle bomber. (Posted 1:25 p.m.)

Chertoff: No 'current evidence' alleged plotters planned U.S. operations

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Sunday that "current evidence" does not show the people involved in an alleged plot to blow up airplanes planned to conduct any operations in the United States.

"Right now, I can still tell you that the current evidence does not show any plotting occurring inside the United States or any plan to conduct operations within the United States," Chertoff told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

Chertoff's remarks came three days after police in England arrested about two dozen people allegedly involved in a plot to use liquid explosives to blow up as many as 10 passenger planes in mid-flight heading from the United Kingdom to the United States.

That prompted an immediate ban on liquids and gels in carry-on luggage in the U.K. and U.S. that resulted in widespread flight cancellations and delays.

Asked about suggestions that some of the alleged plotters called people in the United States, Chertoff said, "As of now -- and of course it's subject to change -- we do not see any plotting inside the United States or any indication of operational activity by these plotters inside the United States."

Chertoff described the alleged plot as "sophisticated," but said officials have not determined whether it was the work of the al Qaeda terrorist organization responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (Posted 1:25 p.m.)

Israel targets Beirut's southern suburbs

BEIRUT (CNN) -- Two large explosions shook Beirut Sunday around 7 p.m. (noon ET) and video on Lebanese media showed clouds of smoke rising above the city's southern suburbs.

It was the second Israeli strike on southern Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold.

Around 3 p.m. (8 a.m. ET), CNN staff heard more than 15 explosions as well as jets overhead.

The Lebanese media reported that the afternoon strikes targeted the neighborhoods of Rwais, Mamoora, Gallerie Semaan, Bourj Al-Barajne, and Kafaat.

Lebanese security sources said the Israeli attacks were aimed at Hezbollah's leadership, adding that none of the militia's top leaders were believed to have been in the area at the time.

A Lebanese army source said several buildings were damaged and a number of families are trapped underneath the rubble. (Posted 12:33 a.m.)

Haifa hit by rockets; air raid sirens follow

HAIFA, Israel (CNN) -- Hezbollah rockets Sunday pounded Haifa, hitting at least six places inside the northern Israeli city, according to Israeli ambulance services.

The rockets rained down around 6:45 p.m. (11:45 a.m. ET) and were followed minutes later by more air raid sirens.

There were reports of at least two people seriously wounded.

More than 232 rockets have landed in northern Israel Sunday, including 40 that have hit Israeli cities, according to Israeli police.

It was not clear if that figure included the latest Haifa attack. (Posted 12:05 p.m.)

U.S. military: 23 dead in insurgent attack on Afghan army post

(CNN) -- Insurgents attacked an Afghan National Army post in southern Afghanistan early Sunday, killing five soldiers before other soldiers returned fire, killing at least 18 insurgents, according to a U.S. military news release.

Six other Afghan soldiers were wounded, three seriously, the military said.

The insurgents fired small arms and rocket-propelled grenades at the command post in the Bermel district of Paktika Province. The Afghan soldiers, with the help of a coalition tactical training team, returned mortar and artillery fire from nearby coalition bases.

"With the Coalition's assistance, Afghan National Security forces are gaining long-term capability and presence in these areas to provide security and stability to the Afghan people," said Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force - 76. "Steady progress is being made, and we will continue together to pursue the enemy wherever they try to hide." (Posted 11:43 a.m.)

6 dead in Indiana apartment building fire

(CNN) -- Six people died Sunday when an apartment building in Michigan City, Ind., caught fire, an official told CNN.

Indiana State Fire Marshal Roger Johnson said several people were missing, but he had reason to believe at least some of them had left the scene.

There was no immediate indication of what may have ignited the blaze, which was reported to the Michigan City Fire Department at about 5 a.m., he said.

The State Fire Marshal's office has established a task force to investigate the fire. (Posted 11:40 a.m.)

Reid: British officials have foiled 4 major terrorist plots since last year

LONDON (CNN) -- Britain has foiled four major terrorist plots since last year's deadly July 7 bombings in London, British Home Secretary John Reid said Sunday following last week's disruption of an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic aircraft.

He said the disrupted plots would have caused major loss of life, based on the information he had received.

Reid's comments came as British airports entered a fourth day of chaos as the fallout from the thwarted plot continued to cause cancellations, major delays and anger from flight operators.

The heightened security was imposed on Thursday after police claimed they had foiled a plot to destroy up to 10 jets, prompting Britain to raise its terror alert to "critical," its highest level.

Police, meanwhile, were still probing the homes and backgrounds of 23 people arrested on Thursday in connection with the disrupted plot. One person arrested was released Friday, but police would not give a reason.

No one has been charged.

The suspects planned to mix a sports drink with a gel-like substance to create an explosive that could then be triggered with an iPod or cell phone, a senior U.S. congressional source told CNN. All of those items could have been carried on board without raising any suspicions.

As a result, passengers are banned from bringing liquids on all flights -- domestic and international -- in the United States and Britain.

Passengers in Britain are also forbidden from carrying any hand luggage onto their flights. (Posted 11:25 a.m.)

Lebanese cabinet meeting postponed

BEIRUT (CNN) -- The Lebanese cabinet postponed its meeting Sunday to discuss implementing the U.N. resolution aimed at ending fighting between Hezbollah and Israel.

A Lebanese government minister said the meeting was postponed one to two days at the request of parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri, a key negotiator with Hezbollah.

The postponement will give government officials more time to meet with Hezbollah leadership to discuss details of implementing the U.N. resolution, the Lebanese minister said. (Posted 11 a.m.)

'Simply awesome' U.S. troops detain 'key terrorist' in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The U.S. military in Iraq announced Sunday the detention of "a key terrorist cell leader" linked to a July bombing in Mahmoudiya.

"Our soldiers are simply awesome. This is the third top member of this violent and elusive terrorist cell we have detained in recent weeks," said Col. Todd Ebel, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.

A military news release said a patrol of soldiers detained the "terrorist" during a cordon and search southwest of Baghdad on Thursday. The military did not name the person detained.

"The cell leader is directly linked to the July 17 attack on a local market" that killed 40 Iraqis and wounded more than 70, the military said. (Posted 10:42 a.m.)

Chertoff: TSA to announce changes to travel restrictions

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Transportation Security Administration Sunday will announce minor changes to the current travel restrictions "actually easing them in certain respects," Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff told ABC's "This Week."

Chertoff would not elaborate on what those changes would be.

Since Thursday, airline travelers have been banned from bringing any liquids in their carry-on luggage on flights leaving the United States.

The heightened security was imposed after British police claimed they had foiled a plot to blow up as many as 10 transAtlantic jets heading from the United Kingdom to the United States. (Posted 9:20 a.m.)

Livni: U.N. resolution 'will change the rules of the game'

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Following the Israeli Cabinet's approval of a U.N. resolution to end ongoing fighting with Hezbollah, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Sunday the resolution is "good for Israel" and "will change the rules of the game in Lebanon and the relationship between Israel and Lebanon as well."

Livni spoke at a news conference after the Cabinet approved U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which is scheduled to take effect at 0500 GMT Monday (1 a.m. ET).

The resolution, approved unanimously by the U.N. Security Council on Friday, calls for boosting the number of U.N troops in the area from 2,000 to 15,000. They would be joined by 15,000 Lebanese troops and charged with ensuring Hezbollah could not operate anywhere between the Blue Line -- the Israeli-Lebanese border -- and the Litani River.

It also calls for the unconditional release of two Israeli soldiers kidnapped July 12 by Hezbollah -- the event that precipitated the conflict.

Lastly, it calls for a "full cessation of hostilities" and, once that has been achieved, for the government of Lebanon to deploy its forces into southern Lebanon at the same time Israel withdraws its soldiers from the area. And it lays the groundwork for a more permanent cease-fire agreement.

Livni said Israeli troops would leave southern Lebanon only when the Lebanese and international forces are in place. (Posted 9:08 a.m.)

Israeli Cabinet OKs U.N. resolution

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's Cabinet Sunday approved U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, aimed at ending fighting with Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, according to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office.

The resolution will take effect at 5 a.m. GMT Monday (1 a.m. ET).

Olmert had already agreed on the date and the time, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said his Cabinet unanimously approved the resolution on Saturday and met Sunday to discuss its implementation. (Posted 8:13 a.m.)

2 humanitarian ships dock in Beirut

BEIRUT (CNN) -- Two United Nations ships ferried over 4,500 tons of food and humanitarian supplies for various aid agencies and docked in Beirut Sunday, officials with U.N.'s World Food Program said.

Previously U.N. chartered ships docked in Syria and their contents were trucked into Lebanon, WFP project manager Thomas Keusters said.

The first ship arrived from Italy via Cyprus with 13 SUVs, food, water, portable toilets, medical supplies, hygiene kits and 200 tons of diesel fuel. Half of the fuel has been allotted to run the land convoys that will carry the aid throughout the country. The other half will be distributed to hospitals, Keusters said.

The second ship arrived from Turkey carrying 3,000 tons of food -- mainly wheat, flour and pasta.

Keusters said the destruction of the infrastructure has made it very difficult to reach the places that are the most in need. They are very hopeful that with the possible ceasefire they will be in a position to go more quickly and easily.

WFP officials said Israel has given the ships two days clearance but that it will take five days to unload the supplies. They said they hope Israel will extend their clearance.

By Tuesday they said they hope to receive clearance to send one ship to the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre and distribute the supplies to the nearby villages.

The WFP officials added they will have two convoys in the south over the next few days, but only as far as Sidon.

The most recent convoy was sent last week to Tyre. (Posted 7:04 a.m.)

Castro birthday message: "I am feeling great."

HAVANA (CNN) -- Photos and a written message from Cuban leader Fidel Castro published Sunday, on his 80th birthday, suggest he is recovering from the illness that prompted him to temporarily hand over power to his younger brother Raul two weeks ago.

"I am feeling great," Castro wrote in his birthday message published in Sunday's edition of Cuba's official Communist Party newspaper Granma.

He said his "stability has improved considerably," but he is still at risk and his recovery will take a while longer.

"To everyone who wished me good health, I promise I will fight for it," Castro said.

Four color photos showed Castro wearing a red, white and blue Adidas running suit.

In one, he has a thin smile as he rests his chin on his fist. Two others show Castro talking on a phone, while the fourth shows him holding a copy of Granma. (Posted 6:51 a.m.)

Lebanese and Israeli wounded and killed in clashes

BEIRUT (CNN) -- Israel's aerial bombardment of southern Lebanon was possibly the heaviest yet in the month-long battle with Hezbollah, as both Israel's and Lebanon's cabinets meet to discuss implementation of the U.N. resolution intended to bring peace to the region.

Hezbollah rockets rained onto northern Israel Sunday, killing one Israeli civilian and wounding seven.

Five Israeli soldiers died after Hezbollah fighters shot down their helicopter Saturday night in southern Lebanon, Israel Defense Forces said.

At least three Lebanese civilians were killed and eight wounded in an Israeli airstrike on the eastern Lebanese town of Ali al-Nahri in the Bekaa Valley on Sunday, Lebanese hospital sources said.

On the Lebanese-Syrian border, two Lebanese soldiers were wounded when an Israeli airstrike hit their jeep in Aita el Foukhar, Bekaa, Lebanese army sources said.

In the southern port city of Tyre, Israeli airstrikes sent columns of smoke whirling into the air, video footage showed. Arabic-language news networks reported civilians were killed in the strikes.

CNN journalists in Tyre reported the bombardment appeared heavier Sunday than at any other time in the conflict.

Amidst the fighting, the Lebanese Cabinet convened Sunday to discuss details of implementing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, aimed at ending the clashes. (Posted 6:17 a.m.)

U.S., Iraqi soldiers team up to search Sunni homes in southwest Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- U.S. and Iraqi soldiers searched 3,600 houses in a mostly Sunni area of southwest Baghdad early Sunday in an operation aimed at routing out insurgents and to locate weapons caches.

CNN photojournalist Gabe Ramirez was embedded with the U.S. Army's 2nd Brigade 1st Armored Division during the operation in Ameriya, which is about five miles southwest of central Baghdad.

The operation is named "Together Forward." (Posted 5:40 a.m.)

Iraqi arrested 16 "gang members" who plotted to kidnap PM's relatives

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraqi security forces captured 16 "gang members" Sunday who were allegedly planning to attack, kidnap or assassinate close relatives of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, an Iraqi Council of Ministers statement said.

While in custody the men confessed to committing murder, rape and attacking a police station that killed six police officers, the statement said. One of the members also confessed to blowing up 12 car bombs in Baghdad.

The initial investigation was conducted in al-Hindiyah town and the case will be transferred to Karbala city for prosecution of the men.

--From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq (Posted 5:31 a.m.)

Lebanese and Israeli wounded and killed in clashes

BEIRUT (CNN) -- Israel and Hezbollah continued their battles Sunday for the 33rd day while officials met in Beirut to try to broker peace in the region.

At least three Lebanese civilians were killed and eight wounded in an Israeli airstrike on the eastern Lebanese town of Ali al-Nahri in the Bekaa Valley on Sunday, Lebanese hospital sources said.

On the Lebanese-Syrian border, two Lebanese soldiers were wounded when an Israeli airstrike hit their jeep in Aita el Foukhar, Bekaa, Lebanese army sources said.

In the southern port city of Tyre, Israeli airstrikes sent columns of smoke whirling into the air, video footage showed. Arabic-language news networks reported civilians were killed in the strikes.

In the northern Israeli town of Metula, a Hezbollah rocket strike hit what appears to be a residential area, video showed.

In Safed, three Israelis sustained wounds after attacks, Israeli ambulance services said.

Amidst the fighting, the Lebanese Cabinet convened Sunday to discuss details of implementing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, aimed at ending the clashes.

Fighting in the region has left close to 900 Lebanese dead and more than 3,500 wounded, according to Lebanese Internal Security Forces. Israeli military reported 143 people have been killed and more than 1,000 wounded. (Posted 4:34 a.m.)

Contract signed helps child safety

(CNN) -- A $300,000 contract establishing a school safety and child protection plan for Afghan children was signed by the Combined Forces and a local organization Sunday in Kabul, a statement from the Kabul press center said.

The contract will help the Afghan Ministry of Education to "enable access to a constitutionally guaranteed education, free from intimidation and fear by extremist elements," the statement said.

The plan includes creating a mobile protection team aimed at responding to reports of potential violence against schools and children. (Posted 3:35 a.m.)

Lebanese wounded and killed in airstrikes

BEIRUT (CNN) -- At least three Lebanese civilians were killed and eight wounded in an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese town of Ali al-Nahri in the Bekaa Valley on Sunday, Lebanese hospital sources said.

On the Lebanese-Syrian border, two Lebanese soldiers were wounded when an Israeli airstrike hit their jeep in Aita el Foukhar, Bekaa, Lebanese army sources said.

In the southern port city of Tyre, Israeli airstrikes sent columns of smoke whirling into the air, video footage showed. Arabic-language news networks reported civilians were killed in the strikes.

Fighting in the region has left close to 900 people dead and more than 3,500 wounded, according to Lebanese Internal Security Forces. (Posted 2:24 a.m.)

Hospital officials: 3 Lebanese dead in airstrike

BEIRUT (CNN) -- At least three Lebanese civilians were killed and eight wounded in an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese town of Ali al-Nahri in the Bekaa Valley on Sunday, Lebanese hospital sources said.

Fighting in the region has left close to 900 people dead and more than 3,500 wounded, according to Lebanese Internal Security Forces. (Posted 1:37 a.m.)

5 Israeli soldiers killed in copter shootdown

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Five Israeli soldiers died after Hezbollah fighters shot down their helicopter Saturday night in southern Lebanon, Israel Defense Forces said.

Earlier in the day, 19 Israeli soldiers were killed, seven of them during a battle in southern Lebanon, military officials said. (Posted 12:40 a.m.)

IDF: 19 Israeli soldiers killed Saturday

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel said a total of 19 soldiers were killed Saturday, seven of them during a battle in southern Lebanon.

It was not immediately known how the other 12 soldiers died. Sixty Israeli troops were wounded in the battle Saturday, 11 critically, Israel Defense Forces said.

Lebanese Internal Security sources announced Saturday that 880 people have been killed and more than 3,500 wounded, most of them civilians, since the conflict began July 12.

The Saturday death toll brings the total number of Israeli troop deaths to 103. Forty civilians have also died, the IDF said, and more than 1,000 people wounded. (Posted 10:40 p.m.)

Prosecutor: 3 suspects believed to have targeted bridge

(CNN) -- Three men authorities said were found with about 1,000 untraceable cell phones were arraigned Saturday on terror-related charges, and were believed to have been targeting a Michigan bridge, a prosecutor said.

"The targeted issue in this case was the Mackinac Bridge. That is what we have information on," Tuscola County prosecutor Mark Reene said. The bridge is 5 miles long and connects Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas.

Police in Caro, Mich., said the men were arrested early Friday and were being held on charges of "providing material support for terrorism and obtaining information of a vulnerable target for the purposes of terrorism."

The suspects are two brothers, Adham Othman, 22, and Louai Othman, 23, and their 19-year-old cousin, Maruwan Muhareb, CNN affiliate WEYI reported.

According to police, the men -- each of whom had a Texas driver's license -- said they had traveled to Michigan to purchase the phones and were planning on reselling them for profit in the Lone Star state. (Posted 10:25 p.m.)

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