US forces were back on the attack Wednesday in Fallujah, Iraq, after pounding a city neighborhood where resisters were hiding. Conditions were reportedly too dangerous for troops to immediately determine the number of casualties from the assault, which produced spectacular TV images, but destroyed houses could be seen afterward. Military spokesmen said they still hoped to resolve the conflict through negotiations.

Police found a cache of weapons in a raid in Syria's capital Wednesday following an attack by "a terrorist band" the previous day that killed four people and shattered a building once used by the UN. Two attackers were captured and were being interrogated. Citizens in the capital appeared shaken by the violence, some of the worst in the tightly controlled nation in years.

With Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's own political party preparing to vote Sunday on his plan to pull Israeli troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip, he told interviewers the response to any subsequent Palestinian violence "would be much harsher" than any so far. Speaking on Independence Day, Sharon wouldn't discuss specifics, but said Palestinians no longer could rationalize violence there by blaming it on Israeli occupation. Late opinion polls suggested the outcome of Sunday's vote is uncertain, but Sharon told the interviewers a rejection by voters would be seen as "a victory for [Yasser] Arafat and Hamas."

Tipped off that Muslim militants intended to attack, heavily armed security forces in southern Thailand killed at least 107 of them - including 32 who had retreated inside a mosque. Five police also died in the battle. Prime Minister Thaksin Shina-watra, who warned last month that he would implement "stricter measures" to deal with growing violence in the region, said the fighting Wednesday would make it "hard for them to do these kinds of bad things again."

Organizers of a petition drive to oust leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez agreed to try to verify more than 1 million signatures - their last remaining option if they hope to force a referendum on his rule this summer. The drive yielded more than the 2.4 million signatures required for a referendum, but the National Elections Council ordered verification of most of them and offered the organizers only four days next month to complete the process.

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