Update as of 2000 Eastern Time:
Bottom Line Up Front:
1. Syria Strike
From Fox News (Syria):
U.S. military helicopters struck a network of foreign fighters in Syria, a U.S. military official said Sunday, killing eight people and earning recrimination from Damascus, which condemned the raid as "serious aggression."
The official, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the special forces action within Syrian territory close to the Iraqi border, was meant to send a message. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area because Syria was out of the military's reach.
"We are taking matters into our own hands," the official said.
The attack came just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an "uncontrolled" gateway for fighters entering Iraq.
Ninety percent of foreign fighters enter Iraq through Syria, according to U.S. intelligence estimates. Foreign fighters often enter Iraq in order to bring cash to Al Qaeda in Iraq's chief. They also are deadly — trained in bomb-making and willing to sacrifice themselves in suicide attacks.
A senior U.S. military intelligence official said that in July only about 20 foreign fighters were entering the country each month, down 50 percent from six months earlier, and just a fifth of the estimated 100 foreign fighters who were infiltrating Iraq a year ago.
From NY Times (Iran):
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday he is suffering from exhaustion and two allies said he was suffering under the strain of his job, in a rare disclosure apparently designed to combat rumors the hardline leader is more seriously ill.
A parliament member who confirmed Ahmadinejad's illness accused opponents of using it as an excuse to cast doubt on whether the increasingly unpopular president will run for a second term next year.
''Those who use such a natural issue for psychological warfare will fail'' to gain support in public opinion, said Parliament member Mohammad Ismail Kowsari. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, every Iranian president has been re-elected to a second term, except the first one, Abolhasan Banisadr, who fled the country in 1981.
The months ahead are critical for Ahmadinejad if he wants to try to rebuild his political base and rebut critics who point to his unfulfilled campaign promises, including his pledge to extend Iran's oil revenues to poorer provinces around the country.
With more than 10 percent unemployment and 30 percent inflation, Iran was unable to bask in record-high oil prices earlier this year. And now with oil prices falling, Iran is certain to face a budget squeeze that could severely complicate Ahmadinejad's last months before he faces re-election.
Ahmadinejad is also confronting questions about his uncompromising stance with the West over Iran's nuclear program, which has severely soured international relations. The U.N. has also placed three rounds of sanctions against Iran since Ahmadinejad took office in 2005 over Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
Rumors that Ahmadinejad was seriously ill have been popping up on some Iranian Web sites affiliated with the president's opponents for several months. A cleric who supports him, Ayatollah Abolqasem Khazali, had even warned Ahmadinejad that his work habits could lead to hospitalization.
But a flurry of new rumors appeared after Ahmadinejad, who turns 53 on Monday, canceled a speech on Wednesday and did not attend a Cabinet meeting the same day.
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