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GPS satellite to better guide military weapons

Rocket launched into space; carries satellite to guide weapons

CAPE CANAVERAL - A rocket carrying a GPS satellite to better guide military weapons was launched into space Thursday.

The Delta 2 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 3:04 p.m. with the modernized NAVSTAR Global Positioning System Block 2R military navigation satellite aboard for the U.S. Air Force.

The satellite is part of a constellation of 24 and one of eight that were modernized to more precisely guide weapons and a variety of civilian applications.

Powered by a solar panel that can produce up to 800 watts of power, the 4,540-pound satellite is expected to circle the earth for up to a decade before becoming obsolete.


Al Qaeda torture

Iraq 'torture complex' discovered
US and Iraqi forces have discovered a "torture complex" in an al-Qaeda safe haven near Muqdadiya in central Diyala province, the US military has said.

Three buildings containing chains on the walls and ceilings, and a metal bed connected to a power supply were found during an operation on 9 December.

Mass graves containing 26 bodies were uncovered nearby, the military said.

Torture chamber found in Iraq
BAGHDAD - Blood-splotches on walls, chains hanging from a ceiling and swords on the killing floor — the artifacts left a disturbing tale of brutalities inside a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq torture chamber. But there was yet another chilling fact outside the dirt-floor dungeon. Villagers say they knew about the torment but were too intimidated by extremists to tell authorities until now.

The rooms "had chains, a bed — an iron bed that was still connected to a battery — knives and swords that were still covered in blood," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, the top U.S. commander in northern Iraq.

Nearby were nine mass graves containing the remains of 26 people, he said.

Iraq bombings kill at least 16
The U.S. military, meanwhile, released details today of an apparent torture center found in Diyala province this month. A military statement said U.S. forces killed 24 suspected insurgents and detained 37 during an operation Dec. 8-11, which also uncovered the apparent torture complex.

The statement said the remains of 26 people were found in multiple mass graves during the operation near Muqdadiya, 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. Tips from residents led U.S. troops to the site, which appeared to have been used by the group Al Qaeda in Iraq as a detention and execution facility. A bed hooked up to an electrocution system, chains on the walls and ceilings and blood-stained items were found inside the compound, officials said.

From last May: Torture, Al-Qaeda Style


Musa Qala

Calm after fight for Afghan town
Local people are slowly returning to the Afghan town of Musa Qala, after the Taleban stronghold was captured by British, US and Afghan forces.

Iraqi oil

Iraqi oil exceeds pre-war output

Iraqi oil production is above the levels seen before the US-led invasion of the country in 2003, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It puts the rise down to the improving security situation in Iraq, especially in the north of the country.

Since the summer there has been a marked downturn in all forms of violence in Iraq.

Analysts point to a number of reasons for this, ranging from the big increase or "surge" in American troop numbers in Baghdad, to Sunni militant groups turning against former al-Qaeda allies.



US 'kills key Iraq al-Qaeda man'
Abu Maysara, a Syrian, was a senior adviser to the group's leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, a statement said.

40 Qaeda leaders killed or captured in Iraq: US
US military spokesman Major General Kevin Bergner said Abu Maysara, a close aide of Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was among those killed.

"He was one of the 40 Al-Qaeda leaders killed or captured in November," Bergner told reporters, breaking the figures down into nine militants killed and 31 captured.

Iraq to be given control of Basra
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced that the Iraqi province of Basra is to be handed over to Iraqi control within two weeks.

Iraq plans crackdown in violent province

BAGHDAD - Iraq's defense minister promised on Sunday to wage a new crackdown in a volatile province northeast of Baghdad where militants are trying to regroup after being routed from their urban stronghold there last summer.