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The US and Iraq were diverting military resources to Mosul to bring the city under control, and reported encountering "very little resistance" although both gunfire and loud explosions could be heard. Iraq's No. 3 city emerged as a new hotbed of violence as the campaign to pacify Fallujah proceeded. A dozen Mosul police stations were abandoned to the militants and three of them had been blown up as the captors fled before the US and Iraqi advance, witnesses said.

The interim leader of the Palestinians asked Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist organizations to forgo violence while candidates campaign for the Jan. 9 presidential election. Mahmoud Abbas also picked up the endorsement of the man once seen as the probable successor to Yasser Arafat, Gaza Strip power broker Mohamad Dahlan. Dahlan said Abbas "could be the bridge between the past, the present, and the future." For their part, Hamas and Islamic Jihad asked Abbas for a "unified leadership" that would give them a role in Palestinian decisionmaking even though they may not compete in the election.

"About 20,000" soldiers will be withdrawn beginning today from disputed Kashmir, a senior military source in India said, in a move timed for new Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's first official visit to the region. The pullout is seen as a goodwill gesture toward Pakistan, which also claims Kashmir but which has proposed peace initiatives. Singh's Pakistani counterpart, Shaukat Aziz, is scheduled to visit India next week to discuss those proposals. India's troop strength in Kashmir has never been revealed publicly but is believed to be at least 500,000. The rivals have fought three wars for control of the region.

Rebels applauded while supporters of Ivory Coast's government reacted angrily to a UN decision to impose a weapons embargo on the volatile African nation. The vote Monday in the Security Council was unanimous. It bans arms sales to both sides for 13 months and allows for a freeze of financial assets unless steps are taken to put the broken peace accord back in place. Critics, however, noted that arms embargoes in Africa have proven difficult to enforce. Despite a 2001 embargo in neighboring Liberia, civil war raged there for two more years.

If Parliament approves, a ban on smoking in most public places will be phased in over the next four years, Britain's Health Secretary announced. The measure would apply only to England; Scotland and Wales are expected to pursue their own restrictions. The Republic of Ireland imposed a ban earlier this year that applies to all enclosed workplaces. No such moves have been proposed so far in Northern Ireland.

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