Confusion reigned over the decision to send 10,000 Turkish Army troops to serve as peacekeepers in Iraq. Turkey's parliament OK'd the move, which was announced by the Ankara government Monday. But Iraq's Governing Council quickly drafted a resolution rejecting the idea, with a member saying, "This interference is unacceptable." As the Monitor went to press, the resolution had not been issued formally, however, reportedly under pressure from the US-led provisional authority. The US has sought peacekeeping help from Turkey (and other nations), although public opinion there is strongly opposed.

Confronted with the first major test of his presidency, Syrian leader Bashar Assad said his nation cannot be ignored in regional affairs and will defy US demands that it expel Palestinian militants. He called Sunday's Israeli airstrike on a suspected Palestinian terrorist base near Damascus "a failed attempt to undercut" the Syrian role and maintained that his is "not a country without cards" to use against Israel. But analysts said its military is no match for Israel's and that Assad has yet to consolidate power since inheriting his father's office three years ago.

In his first public comments since the airstrike, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned of further attacks "any place and in any way" to defend Israeli citizens. But he also said Israel "will not miss any opening to reach a [peace] agreement with our neighbors." Meanwhile, a senior Sharon adviser said the Palestinian terrorist attack that prompted the airstrike in Syria probably has hastened the "removal" of Yasser Arafat, a decision reached in principle last month by Israel's cabinet.

If there is another round of regional talks on North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Japan will not be welcome, the Pyongyang government said. It complained that the first set of talks, in August in Beijing, had become a forum for reviving old protests against the kidnapping of Japanese to help train North Korean spies. Japan's Foreign Ministry rejected the North Korean position.

UN peacekeepers were counting down the hours to begin enforcing a pact between government and rebel leaders in Liberia to keep the capital a weapons-free zone. On Monday, the two sides gave themselves 72 hours to comply with their pledge. The accord followed a deadly firefight between their respective followers last week as rebel chief Sekou Conneh entered Monrovia for a meeting with acting President Moses Blah.

Army officers were among a dozen people arrested for plotting to overthrow Burkina Faso's government. The suspects were awaiting only the delivery of weapons from a "foreign" country to carry out their plan, the state prosecutor said. Relations with neighboring Ivory Coast have been tense because of the latter's accusation that Burkina Faso backs an ongoing rebel insurgency there.

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