GULF AND MIDDLE EAST
Iraqi rebels said President Saddam Hussein launched air raids on their position in the northern oil city of Kirkuk March 26 for the second consecutive day. The US, while not yet confirming the claim, is reportedly debating whether to protect Iraqi rebels more actively by carrying through on its warning to shoot down Iraqi helicopter gunships. Saddam's forces are now said to be winning in their struggle with rebel Shiites in southern Iraq.... Iraq will send a delegation to Arab League Council meeting on March 30, the Iraqi News Agency said. Baghdad last month cut ties with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, members of the 21-nation league.... US officials were reported considering movement of a portion of the US Central Command headquarters to the Gulf to help coordinate any future manuevers and other postwar contingencies after a permanent cease-fire is worked out by the UN.... Lebanese foreign minister Fares Boueiz hinted March 26 that increased Syrian and Iranian concern over the plight of Western hostages may lea d to a breakthrough and vowed Lebanese troops would help locate the captives.... An Iraqi diplomat was wounded by a car bomb in Ankara, Turkey, March 26. A caller claiming to speak for Muslim fundamentalists said the attack was in revenge for Baghdad's alleged use of chemical weapons against anti-government rebels.
The Soviet government has banned rallies in Moscow planned by supporters of Russian leader Boris Yeltsin during a forthcoming emergency session of the Russian republic's supreme legislature (story, Page 1).... German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has rejected demands from the opposition Social Democrats to either call new elections or work with the opposition in a grand coalition. The opposition says Kohl is unable to handle the economic crisis in eastern Germany. Tens of thousands of east Germans have demonst rated against unemployment and are calling for Kohl's resignation.... A long-delayed bill allowing prosecution of suspected Nazi war criminals cleared Britain's House of Commons March 26 and will go to the House of Lords for approval. Critics argue the time lapse since World War II makes it difficult to give suspects a fair trial.... The Soviet KGB security organization has closed its Prague office, which supervised much of Czechoslovak internal security until the fall of communism.
OTHER WORLD NEWS
A NASA satellite spotted the movements of a large gang of suspected wood smugglers in Guatemala and the agency alerted Guatemalan authorities, who seized the group.... Chile's President Patricio Aylwin has won approval from his Congress to free many jailed political prisoners detained by Augusto Pinochet's former military regime.... Japan March 26 said it will give more than $10 million for Palestinians living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.