TEHRAN, Iran -- A desperate mission to rescue 53 American hostages from Iran ended in failure and the deaths of eight servicemen, but it is being remembered 25 years later as a turning point for U.S. special forces that eventually led to successes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and elsewhere. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force veterans of Operation Eagle Claw, families of those who lost their lives and a support group are gathering in Florida this weekend for an anniversary remembrance. Mere failure turned into fiery disaster when a helicopter collided with a transport plane at Desert One, a desolate rendezvous spot in Iran, after mechanical and weather problems had already aborted the mission. What happened April 25, 1980, shocked the Pentagon and Congress into building up special forces for secret missions and small-scale warfare against terrorists and guerillas. "The U.S. got better prepared to deal with terrorism quicker because of Desert One," retired Air Force Col. Roland Guidry said in recent interview. He was a squadron commander at Desert One and later served as chief of air operations for the U.S. Special Operations Command, now based at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Fla.
Killer relieved by ruling
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Serial killer Michael Ross was relieved after a judge ruled that he is mentally competent to abandon his death row appeals, removing a major hurdle to New England's first execution in 45 years, his attorney said. "He's hopeful that this time around maybe this will put an end to the court proceedings, so he can spend some time to get mentally and emotionally prepared for May 11," attorney T.R. Paulding said Friday. Ross, 45, is scheduled to be die by injection May 11. He has admitted killing and raping eight young women in Connecticut and New York in the early 1980s.
Cops handcuff girl, 5
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A 5-year-old girl was handcuffed by police after she tore papers off a bulletin board and punched an assistant principal in kindergarten class, according to a video released by an attorney for the child's mother. The 30-minute tape shows the child appearing to calm down before three officers pinned her arms behind her back and put on handcuffs as she screamed, "No!" The camera was rolling March 14 as part of a classroom self-improvement exercise at Fairmount Park Elementary, attorney John Trevena said. Trevena, who provided the tape to the media this week, said he got it from police.
Syrian pullout complete
BEIRUT, Lebanon -- The last Syrian troops will leave Lebanon today after 29 years, a senior Lebanese military officer said, as Damascus yields to fierce international and domestic pressure after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The announcement came as the largest number of Syrian troops to leave Lebanon in one batch vacated at least 10 positions in the northern part of the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon on Saturday night. Under pouring rain, dozens of trucks carrying hundreds of soldiers and at least 150 armored vehicles towing cannons and rocket launchers were seen heading to the Lebanese-Syrian Masnaa border point, witnesses said.
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