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Top of the News

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The latest headlines.

BILL WOLFF: This NPR.

RACHEL MARTIN: Thanks, Alison. U.S. forces were drawn deeper in Iraq's four-day-old crackdown on Shiite militants today. Here's NPR's Dina Temple-Raston from Baghdad.

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON: Apache helicopters attacked an area of Sadr City earlier today. The Americans responded when Iraqi forces called for air support after receiving small-arms fire in the Madhi army stronghold of eastern Baghdad. American foot patrols also entered Sadr City to help Iraqi forces there. Until now, coalition forces have been careful to say this is an Iraqi operation targeting rogue elements of the Madhi army.

Iraqi authorities imposed a round-the-clock curfew until six a.m. Sunday. The Iraqi government has also appeared to have extended the deadline for fighters to turn in their weapons. Originally, there had been a 72-hour deadline which would have ended this evening. Now the government is saying that weapons can be turned in by April 8th. They are putting a special emphasis on citizens turning in heavy and medium-sized weapons.

MARTIN: NPR's Dina Temple-Raston from central Baghdad. And U.S. Central Command is getting a new leader, at least temporarily. Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey will assume control of CENTCOM today during a ceremony at Florida's MacDill Air Force Base. In that role, he'll oversee both the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dempsey has been deputy commander at CENTCOM since last August. He'll serve as acting commander until President Bush chooses a replacement and gets that person confirmed by the Senate. Navy Admiral William Fallon announced his resignation as head of CENTCOM earlier this month.

And lastly, France has pulled a type of Italian mozzarella because of possible contamination. France's health minister is ordering stores to stop selling mozzarella made from buffalo milk from the Campania region in Italy. Samples of that cheese were found to have higher-than-allowed levels of cancer-causing dioxin.

The ministry is calling today's order a precautionary measure pending tests. The European Union, meanwhile, says that Italy's made good progress in isolating the contaminated cheese and is not facing an EU ban. That is the news, and it's always online at npr.org.

BILL WOLFF: This is NPR.

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