BAGHDAD

Fallujah’s city center falls to al-Qaida-linked forces

The city center of Iraq’s Fallujah has fallen completely into the hands of fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, police said Saturday, yet another victory for the hardline group that has made waves across the region in recent days.

ISIL is also one of the strongest rebel units in Syria, where it has imposed a strict version of Islamic law in territories it holds and kidnapped and killed anyone it deems critical of its rule.

Also on Saturday, it claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing in a Shiite-dominated neighborhood in Lebanon.

Hadi Razeij, head of the Anbar province police force, said police had left the city center entirely and had positioned themselves on the edge of town.

“The walls of the city are in the hands of the police force, but the people of Fallujah are the prisoners of ISIL,” he said, speaking on Arabic language satellite broadcaster al-Arabiya.

Fallujah, along with the capital of Anbar province, Ramadi, was a stronghold of Sunni insurgents during the U.S.-led war. Al-Qaida militants largely took both cities over last week and have been fending off incursions by government forces there since.

NEW YORK

Team of former NBA players to play game in North Korea

Dennis Rodman has named a team of former NBA players to participate in an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Rodman leads a team that includes former NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, and Vin Baker. Craig Hodges, Doug Christie and Charles D. Smith are on the team, as well. They will play against a top North Korean Senior National team on Jan. 8, marking Kim Jong Un’s birthday.

Rodman is the highest profile American to meet Kim since the leader inherited power from his father in late 2011.

Rodman calls the game his version of “basketball diplomacy.”

CANBERRA, Australia

Icebreaker carrying rescued passengers resumes journey

An Australian icebreaker carrying 52 passengers who were retrieved from an icebound ship in the Antarctic resumed its journey home on Saturday, leaving behind another two icebreakers trapped in pack ice.

The Aurora Australis will continue its interrupted resupply mission to Australia’s Antarctic base Casey Station before returning to the Australian island state of Tasmania in mid-January with the rescued scientists, journalists and tourists.

– From news service reports