Sharon also said that Israel can continue building in large West Bank settlement blocs without U.S. opposition if it does so quietly.

Dovish lawmakers accused the settlers of pushing the country to the brink of civil war to block the withdrawal.

``The settlers, in their campaign to delegitimize the disengagement, will try to lead to a situation of civil war-- and under this threat of civil war prevent any evacuations of settlements,'' said Avshalom Vilan from the Meretz party.

``They are trying, step-by- step, to drag us into an apocalyptic situation,'' he told the radio.

In the newspaper interview, Sharon also said that Israel can continue building in large West Bank settlement blocs without U.S. opposition if it does so quietly.

While the U.S.-backed ``road map'' peace plan calls for a settlement freeze, Israel believes it has tacit American approval for building within these blocs which it wants to keep in any future peace deal.

U.S. diplomats say publicly that Washington remains committed to the road map. However, an announcement in August that Israel would build 1,000 new homes in settlements near Jerusalem drew just a muted U.S. response.

``Yes, we can continue building in the large blocs,'' Sharon said when asked whether he had a quiet understanding with the United States on limited settlement construction.(AP)

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"July was just dull, and it was like: Everything's going to be all right. And then Najaf fired up, and it was just like nothing had ever changed,"

About 1,100 U.S. soldiers and Marines were wounded in Iraq during August, by far the highest combat injury toll for any month since the war began and an indication of the intensity of battles flaring in urban areas.

U.S. medical commanders say the sharp rise in battlefield injuries reflects more than three weeks of fighting by two Army and one Marine battalion in the southern city of Najaf. At the same time, U.S. units frequently faced combat in a sprawling Shiite Muslim slum in Baghdad and in the Sunni cities of Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra, all of which remain under the control of insurgents two months after the transfer of political authority....

....Capt. Neil Taufen, an emergency room physician, said the pace was all the more striking because it came after a quiet stretch.

"July was just dull, and it was like: Everything's going to be all right. And then Najaf fired up, and it was just like nothing had ever changed," said Taufen, of Fort Sill, Okla. (Washington Post)

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Palestinians charged that it was a land grab and had cut tens of thousands of people off from their farms and from public services. The World Court issued an advisory ruling calling it illegal.

Sharon, claiming that there is no Palestinian negotiating partner, has proposed the unilateral steps to separate Israelis and Palestinians after four years of fighting. The Palestinians accuse Sharon of using the plan to consolidate control of large chunks of the West Bank.

Israel has finished the northern third of the barrier, despite Palestinian and international objections. Palestinians charged that it was a land grab and had cut tens of thousands of people off from their farms and from public services. The World Court issued an advisory ruling calling it illegal. (MSNBC)

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a report saying a major civil war that would destablize the entire Middle East region is the mostly likely outcome for Iraq if current conditions continue.

While America's attention was focused last week on the Republican National Convention in New York, and the world was watching the hostage tragedy unfold in the small Russian town of Beslan, the prestigious British Royal Institute of International Affairs (known as Chatham House) issued a report saying a major civil war that would destablize the entire Middle East region is the mostly likely outcome for Iraq if current conditions continue. (Christian Science Monitor)

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US marines killed in Iraq ambush

Seven US marines and three Iraqi soldiers have been killed by a car bomb on the outskirts of Falluja in Iraq, the US military says.

The ambush on the military convoy was the single deadliest strike on US forces since May.(BBC)

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The Israeli forces pulled out just before dawn. Reports say dozens of Palestinian families were left homeless.

Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered the Khan Younis refugee camp during the night.

They surrounded 10 apartment buildings and ordered hundreds of Palestinians to leave their homes.

Residents said the tanks fired shells at the buildings before telling the Palestinians to leave.

Soldiers then demolished two of the buildings which the army said had been used to fire mortars, rockets and anti-tank missiles at Israeli forces and the nearby Jewish settlements of Gush Katif and Neve Dekalim.

Helicopters fired missiles into the camp, wounding six Palestinians.

The Israeli forces pulled out just before dawn. Reports say dozens of Palestinian families were left homeless. (BBC)

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``I can't believe that America is now saying that settlement expansion is all right,'' he said. ``This will destroy the peace process.''

Palestinian leaders on Sunday accused the United States of harming prospects for Mideast peace after the latest indications that Washington is ready to accept some Israeli expansion of West Bank settlements.

The New York Times reported Saturday that the United States will now tacitly support construction in built-up areas of major Jewish settlements, while remaining opposed to housing activity in undeveloped areas....

....Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, said he was waiting for confirmation of the apparent shift in U.S. policy, adding that he would be shocked if it were true.

``I can't believe that America is now saying that settlement expansion is all right,'' he said. ``This will destroy the peace process.''

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a top aide to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, called on the White House to ``clarify'' its position, fearing it would ``encourage the Israeli government to continue and escalate its war against the Palestinian people.'' (AP)

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Teenager shot dead in south Gaza

Israeli soldiers have shot and killed a Palestinian youth in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian medical sources said Ahmed Hams died as he tended a friend who had been shot and injured.

An Israeli military spokesman said troops had opened fire because the two were in a restricted area.(BBC)

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Fighting Intensifies in Iraqi Cities; Toll Rises

U.S. officials announced three military deaths this morning, bringing the total to more than 920 since the invasion in March 2003. (L.A. Times)

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Palestinian militants burn West Bank offices

Palestinian militants Saturday burned down the regional governor's office and the adjacent offices of the Palestinian intelligence services in the West Bank city of Jenin, a militant leader said. (CNN)

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