Al-Qaida is the main enemy to peace and stability in the Middle East and the terrorist group is seeking to acquire - and use - weapons of mass destruction there, a top U.S. commander in Iraq told Congress.
Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. Central Command, was testifying alongside Gen. George Casey, the most senior commander of coalition forces in Iraq, before the Senate and House Armed Services committees. Also to testify Thursday were Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard B. Myers, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
President George W. Bush sent the group to Congress to try to convince lawmakers - and their skeptical constituents - that the United States is making progress in the war. The back-to-back hearings in the House and Senate are part of a White House effort to bolster slipping public support for the war.
After weeks of being criticized for his hurricane response, Bush also is trying to put the focus back on issues considered his strengths - the fight against terrorism and Iraq, the AP reports.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building