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March 5, 2013 at 8:13 AM   |   Comments

40 Syrian troops killed in ambush in Iraq

BAGHDAD, March 5 (UPI) -- Violence spilled over from Syria into Iraq with at least 40 Syrian soldiers and several Iraqi troops were killed in an ambush, Iraqi officials said.

Officials said the group was ambushed in Anbar province by unidentified gunmen as Iraqi troops were escorting the Syrian forces back to Syria in a bus convoy Monday, The New York Times reported.

At least seven Iraqis were killed in the attack, the first such killing of Syrians in neighboring Iraq since the Syrian uprising began two years ago this month.

Ali al-Musawi, a spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, accused "armed groups from the Iraqi and Syrian side" of coordinating the attack. He said Iraq would station more security forces along its border with Syria.

Al-Musawi did not say which armed groups he considered responsible for the attack, but The New York Times said it was evident he meant Sunni militant extremists aligned with al-Qaida in Iraq. Maliki is a Shiite who critics accuse of trying to marginalize Iraq's Sunni population following the U.S. exit in 2011.

In Turkey, officials said Syria fired up to 90 Scud-type missiles into residential areas in the last two months, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.


Hugo Chavez has new lung infection

CARACAS, Venezuela, March 5 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has a severe respiratory infection caused by an immune system weakened by to his medical condition, a government official said.

Minister of Communication and Information Ernesto Villegas said in a nationwide address that Chavez experienced "a deterioration of his respiratory function due to the immune-suppressed status characterizing his clinical condition," El Universal reported.

"Currently, he has a new and severe infection," Villegas said.

Chavez recently returned to Venezuela from Cuba where he received treatment for cancer.

Chavez is aware of his condition and is complying with a treatment plan designed by his medical team, Villegas said.

Villegas urged Venezuelans to reject attempts by the opposition to use Chavez's medical condition "as an excuse to destabilize the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."


New operation reported in Sabah

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, March 5 (UPI) -- Malaysian security forces launched a fresh assault Tuesday to flush out the remaining members of a Filipino clan in its Sabah state, officials said.

The Malaysian Star reported Malaysian fighter jets took part in the operation briefly in the Borneo seafront village of Tanduo in Sabah state and that ground battle was reported to be continuing.

The current crisis began Feb. 11 when members of the Filipino Sulu clan, led by Agbimuddin Kiram, reportedly moved into the village.

The Malaysian Star said details of casualties on the ground in the Tuesday operation were not known. Malaysian naval forces remained on alert as armed groups in southern Philippines had threatened to counterattack Sabah's east coast if Tanduo came under fire, the report said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced Tuesday security forces had been sent to flush out the remaining Sulu intruders.


Manslaughter charges in FAMU hazing death

ORLANDO, Fla., March 5 (UPI) -- Prosecutors have added manslaughter charges for the 11 ex-Florida A&M University marching band members accused in the hazing death of Robert Champion.

The defendants, all of whom were members of FAMU's Marching 100, had previously been charged with felony hazing in the death of Champion, who was a drum major.

Prosecutors said Champion, 26, died Nov. 19, 2011, when he was "pummeled to death" during a hazing ritual aboard the percussion section's bus when it was parked outside an Orlando hotel after a FAMU game.

Champion's family applauded the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office for upgrading the charges "to be more [commensurate] with the heinous crime committed," family attorney Christopher Chestnut said.

If convicted, the manslaughter charges could carry a 15-year prison sentence while the maximum punishment for felony hazing is five years, the newspaper reported.


Couple must return baby to South Korea

EVANSTON, Ill., March 5 (UPI) -- A suburban Chicago couple must return a 9-month-old baby girl they've raised since shortly after she was born to her native South Korea, officials said.

Jinshil and Christopher Duquet of Evanston said they relied on bad legal advice when they left South Korea with the baby after participating in what they thought was a lawful private adoption, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Instead, they found they didn't have the proper paperwork for her adoption when they arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport with the baby.

"It looks like South Korea has prevailed," said a spokeswoman for the law firm hired to represent the South Korean government in local and federal court cases.

The spokeswoman said the baby would be placed with a South Korean family for adoption once she arrives home.

Both the baby's birth mother and grandparents relinquished parental rights to the Duquets and do not want the child back, officials said.

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