Al-Sadr followers to cooperate with Iraqi crackdown

BAGHDAD - Followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr signaled Monday that they won't resist a military crackdown in one of their last southern strongholds unless government troops make arrests without warrants or commit other violations.

The statements came three days before the expiration of a deadline for gunmen in the Sadrist stronghold of Amarah, capital of Maysan province, to surrender their weapons and renounce violence or face harsh measures.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, himself a Shiite, has sent U.S.-backed Iraqi troops to Amarah, a stronghold of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia and the purported center of weapons smuggling from Iran.

Taliban invades Kandahar as residents flee

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Hundreds of Taliban fighters invaded villages just outside Afghanistan's second-largest city Monday, forcing NATO and Afghan troops to rush in while frightened residents fled.

The Taliban assault on the outskirts of Kandahar is the latest display of prowess by the militants despite a record number of U.S. and NATO troops in the country.

Iranian police crack down on state dress code

TEHRAN, Iran - Police closed dozens of clothing stores and hairdressers and stopped cars and pedestrians in a crackdown on women who do not abide by Iran's strict Islamic dress code and men wearing fashions seen as too Western, Iranian media reported Monday.

The sweep, launched Saturday in some neighborhoods of Tehran, is part of an annual campaign aimed at enforcing dress codes that require women to wear long loose robes or coats and cover their hair in public. Many women - particularly in Tehran - push the boundaries of the code, wearing short, colorful coats that reveal the shape of the body and letting their headscarves slip to show much of their hair.

Britain pledges more troops in Afghanistan

LONDON - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown handed President Bush good news on two fronts Monday: a modest increase in Britain's troops for the tough Afghanistan fight and a fresh European effort to squeeze Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The deeply unpopular prime minister seemed to calculate he had more to gain politically by being hawkish than he risked losing by appearing at the side of the also unpopular Bush.