US marines and Iraqi forces were in Day 2 of a Fallujah-like operation to rid Ramadi and other volatile Sunni Triangle cities of terrorists and insurgents. Sections of the cities were sealed off to prevent people from entering or leaving, houses and cars were being searched, and a prominent Sunni sheik and 12 of his relatives were arrested. Meanwhile, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi nominated himself as a candidate for the post full-time as the leading Shiite political alliance appeared split over which of its two candidates should get the post.

Tens of thousands of protesters were back in the streets of Lebanon's capital Monday, a week after former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination, demanding that their pro- Syrian government quit. And international pressure grew for Syria to withdraw its occupation troops. In Brussels, President Bush said the Damascus government must end its occupation, and a senior Arab League official - after meetings with Syrian leaders - said he was assured that "withdrawal is part of [their] policy, and we will see steps in this direction very soon."

Signaling "V" for victory, 500 Palestinians returned home to the West Bank and Gaza Strip as Israel fulfilled a promise to free them from its prisons. The gesture was seen as strengthening the hand of new Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who, nonetheless, has vowed to seek the release of 8,000 others, even those whom Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says have "blood on their hands." The release came one day after Sharon signed an order requiring civilian settlers in the Gaza Strip to evacuate by July 20.

Alarm bells were sounding across the Continent over the future of the proposed European Union constitution after voters in Spain OK'd it Sunday, but in a dismayingly low turnout. Only 42 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. Those who did, approved of the charter by a 77 percent to 17 percent margin. France's minister for European affairs said her country hoped to be next to vote on the matter, by mid-May.

In neighboring Portugal, voters tracked leftward, giving the opposition Socialist Party a landslide victory and its first majority in parliament. The election Sunday ended the three-year rule of the conservative Social Democatic Party-Popular Party coalition, which was unable to reverse Portugal's long economic decline.

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