Key developments in the war in Iraq |

Key developments in the war in Iraq

The Associated Press

Key developments Friday in Iraq:

— U.S. officials confirmed that former Iraqi senior intelligence operative Farouk Hijazi has been captured. Some call him the main link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terror network.

— No Iraqi prisoners will be sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention center that holds Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners from Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. Rumsfeld said administration lawyers had not decided whether any senior Iraqi officials being held will face criminal charges; some could be tried in U.S., international or Iraqi courts, although he said a U.S. venue is “not our first choice.”

— The USS Shiloh and USS Mobile Bay, Navy missile cruisers that took part in the war with Iraq, returned home to San Diego to joyous reunions between sailors and loved ones they left behind nearly 10 months ago.

— President Bush will soon declare an official end to combat in Iraq, White House officials said, previewing an address that also will outline his plans to rebuild the war-torn nation and sustain the global war on terrorism. The speech may come as early as next week when Bush visits an aircraft carrier returning to San Diego from Iraq war duty.

— The U.N. Human Rights Commission condemned abuses by Saddam’s regime and said the international community must do more to protect Iraqis in the future. But a vocal minority of the 53-nation commission said U.S.-led coalition forces themselves should come under investigation for possibly violating the rights of Iraqis.

— Hospital officials and residents say 43 civilians were killed in a U.S. bombing and battle April 2-3, one of the deadliest tolls for noncombatants known during the Iraq war, according to National Public Radio. Most of the deaths, 31, were attributed to the bombing in the village of Taniya; 12 civilians died in a ground battle as Republican Guardsmen fled Aziziyah, nine miles south of Taniya, NPR reported.

— The Pentagon announced two more deaths, raising to 134 the number of Americans killed since the war began. Army Sgt. Troy David Jenkins, 25, of Ridgecrest, Calif., died from wounds received in an explosion April 19; and Army Spc. Roy Russell Buckley, 24, of Portage, Ind., was killed April 22 in Iraq.

— Hundreds of white-clad worshippers sat cross-legged on a boulevard in Nasiriyah on Friday and listened to a cleric’s exhortation: Iraqis must unite to create an Islamic state. The same message resounded across Iraq on the main day of Muslim prayers, as clerics spoke about the need to come together after the ouster of Saddam.

— The Shiite cleric who took over Kut’s city hall and claimed control of this southeastern Iraqi city has left the building peacefully, U.S. military officials said.

— Food and basic supplies were hauled into Iraq from Syria, giving the U.N. World Food Program its fourth corridor to funnel humanitarian aid to Iraqis.