Turkey strikes suspected rebel hideout




ANKARA, Turkey &

Turkish warplanes hit eight suspected Kurdish rebel hideouts in northern Iraq today, the third cross-border air assault in 10 days, Turkey's military said.




The warplanes struck in an "effective pinpoint operation" targeting eight caves and other hideouts being used by the separatist rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, the military said in a statement posted on its Web site.




No rebel deaths were immediately reported.




On Tuesday, Turkey's military claimed that more than 200 Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq have been hit since Dec. 16, killing hundreds of rebels. Today's strikes were the third aerial operation confirmed by the military since Dec. 16. The military also has confirmed that it sent ground troops to hunt down the rebels on Dec. 18.




Conflict-ridden spots call for peace




ROME &

Amid celebrations and signs of hope in Iraq and the West Bank, political and religious leaders marked Christmas Day by calling for peace, reconciliation and justice in places beleaguered by conflict.




In Iraq, Christians made their way past checkpoints on Tuesday to fill Baghdad churches in numbers unthinkable a year ago. And in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, where tradition says Jesus was born, Christians celebrated in an atmosphere of hope raised by the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.




For them, and for all those in the "tortured regions" of the world, Pope Benedict XVI prayed that political leaders would find "the wisdom and courage to seek and find humane, just and lasting solutions."




"" The Associated Press




Benedict, delivering his Christmas Day address from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, urged the crowd to rejoice over the celebration of Christ's birth, which he hoped would bring consolation to all people "who live in the darkness of poverty, injustice and war."




In violence-ridden Baghdad, venturing out in large numbers late at night is still unthinkable, so the Iraqi capital's Christians celebrated Midnight Mass in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Eve.