USA

Syria faces possible diplomatic sanctions over its support for Iraq's former regime, Secretary of State Powell said, the latest in a series of warnings from the Bush administration, which also accuses the Damascus government of seeking to develop chemical weapons. Syria has denied the claims, which some analysts said are aimed at pressuring it to suspend support for Palestinian militant groups.

Families of seven former US prisoners of war were planning excited reunions, a day after their rescue in Iraq. The ex-POWs told The Washington Post they were fed and given medical treatment by their captors, were interrogated, and were often moved. Meanwhile, with coalition troops in effective control of Iraq's main cities, the US is scaling back some forces. Two Navy aircraft carrier battle groups reportedly have orders to leave this week, and the submarine USS Toledo is due to arrive Tuesday at a naval base in Groton, Conn.

A new poll finds 61 percent of Americans think a tax cut can wait while the federal government assesses costs of the war and mounting deficits. The House and Senate last week authorized cuts of $550 billion and $350 billion, respectively, over 10 years, postponing a decision on a final figure. Still, 51 percent of the more than 1,000 adults surveyed for the Associated Press poll, timed to Tuesday's income-tax filing deadline, said taxes are too high. Just 19 percent thought they were likely to be audited.

Business inventories rose 0.6 percent in February as sales fell 1 percent, their biggest decline since November 2001, the Commerce Department reported. Retailers had the largest inventory jump, 0.9 percent, and a 1.5 percent drop in sales.

Police in Phoenix, Ariz., detained a suspect in the killings of at least five women in the past nine months and planned to file charges. Police said Corey Morris admitted involvement in the deaths of the alleged prostitutes. He was arrested Saturday after his uncle reported finding a set of human remains in a camper where Morris sometimes lived.

Homicide and arson squads were investigating a blaze that killed five people and injured three others at a home rented by Ohio State University students in Columbus. A fire department spokeswoman said it was ruled "suspicious." The fire broke out early Sunday after a birthday party, and investigators said they were looking into whether alcohol may have been a factor.

Mike Weir won the Masters golf tournament, the first Canadian and the first left-handed player to do so. Weir outshot Len Mattiace in a sudden death playoff Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

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