Washington, Nov. 9 (Xinhua/UNB) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that he is considering attending Russia's Victory Day military parade next May though he is unsure whether he can do it due to its timing.
"It is in the middle of our campaign season, but I will certainly think about it," Trump told reporters when he was asked if he would attend the event.
Trump, who has yet to visit Russia as U.S. president, said he appreciates Russian President Vladimir Putin's invitation, saying it is "a very big deal celebrating the end of the war."
"It is in the middle of the political season, so I will see if I can do it, but I would love to go if I could," he added.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in June that Putin had invited Trump to attend the Victory Day commemorative events in Moscow next May.
The 2020 events will mark the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush attended the Moscow's Red Square parade in 1995 and 2005 respectively, while Barack Obama declined to show up for the 70th anniversary in 2015 due to the Crimea issue.
A barrage of Katyusha rockets targeted an Iraqi air base that houses American troops south of the city of Mosul on Friday, officials said. No members of the U.S.-led coalition were injured.
The rocket fire appears to have originated in Mosul and struck the Iraqi army base in Qayyara, about 60 kilometers (38 miles) south of Mosul, where coalition forces are helping the Iraqis battle remnants of the Islamic State group, Iraqi security officials said. They spoke to The Associated Press did so on condition of anonymity under regulations.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility nor was it clear if any of the rockets struck the base.
Iraqi officials did not immediately say whether there were any casualties, though a coalition spokeswoman later said no coalition troops had been injured.
"Coalition forces are in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq to defeat ISIS remnants," U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Marisa Roberts said, using a popular acronym for the Islamic State group. "We will not be deterred by these attacks and maintain the right to defend ourselves."
Iraq announced victory over IS two years ago, but the extremist group is still active through sleeper cells and frequently mount attacks on Iraqi security forces.
Some hard-line Iraqi militias loyal to Iran have recently threatened to carry out attacks against Americans in the country. The U.S. maintains about 5,000 troops in Iraq.
American forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011 but returned in 2014 at the invitation of the government to help battle IS after it seized vast areas in the north and west of the country, including Iraq's second largest city, Mosul. A U.S.-led coalition provided crucial air support as Iraqi forces regrouped and drove IS out in a costly three-year campaign.
The attack on Friday came as large parts of Iraq, including the capital of Baghdad and Shiite-majority southern provinces, are engulfed in anti-government protests. Rockets have been fired near the U.S. Embassy in the heavily fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital on several occasions recently.
Mosul, which was largely destroyed during the war against the Islamic State group, lies north of Baghdad and has not seen any anti-government protests.
India's security forces were on high alert ahead of the Supreme Court's verdict Saturday in a decades-old land title dispute between Muslims and Hindus over plans to build a Hindu temple on a site where Hindu hard-liners demolished a 16th century mosque in 1992, sparking deadly religious riots.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a series of tweets appealed for peace ahead of the verdict, expected around 10:30 a.m. (0500 GMT). He had earlier cautioned his council of ministers from making unnecessary statements on the issue that could stoke public sentiments.
Appeals for peace have also come from Hindu and Muslim organizations and various political leaders. India's Home Ministry has asked all states to be on alert.
Authorities increased the security in Ayodhya, 550 kilometers (350 miles) east of New Delhi, and deployed more than 5,000 paramilitary forces to prevent any attacks by Hindu activists on Muslims, who comprise 6% of the town's more than 55,500 people.
Earlier, authorities banned the assembly of more than four people at one place in and around Ayodhya, a town in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Uttar Pradesh government ordered all the schools and colleges to remain closed until Monday.
The destruction of the mosque in 1992 sparked massive Hindu-Muslim violence that left 2,000 people dead.
Hindu hard-liners say they want to build a new temple to Hindu god Ram on the site, which they revere as his birthplace. They say the mosque was built after a temple dedicated to the Hindu god was destroyed by Muslim invaders.
After the demolition of the mosque, Hindus and Muslims took the issue to a lower court, which in 2010 ruled that the disputed land should be divided into three parts - two for Hindus and one for Muslims.
That was challenged in the Supreme Court by the two communities represented by Hindu Maha Sabha, the Sunni Waqf Board, and the Nirmohi Akhara.
The five judges started daily proceedings in August after mediation failed to find a compromise.
Modi had promised to build the temple in 2014 elections that brought him to power. But he later decided to wait for the court verdict despite pressure from millions of Hindu hard-liners who asked his government to bring legislation to build the temple.
Hooded protesters looted a Roman Catholic church Friday near the main gathering site for three weeks of mass protests against Chile's government over inequality.
An Associated Press photographer witnessed people dragging church pews, statues of Jesus and other religious iconography from La Asuncion church onto the street and setting them on fire in a flaming barricade before they clashed with police.
Ashes spread to Santiago's Plaza Italia square where thousands were chanting and holding banners, while others turned on the lights on their cellphones and waved Chilean national flags. The Chilean capital's mayor estimated about 75,000 people had crowded the square.
Smoke also billowed from the nearby headquarters of Pedro de Valdivia University, which was also looted, though it wasn't clear if protesters started the fire. Authorities said they were still investigating the cause.
Local TV reported attacks on businesses in some areas of the city and said a civil registry had caught fire.
Most of the protests over the past 22 days have been peaceful, but some have turned violent. Some rock-throwing demonstrators have been clashing with riot police, who respond with volleys of tear gas and water cannons.
At least 20 people have died and the Chilean Red Cross estimates 2,500 have been injured in the protests, which also forced the cancellation of two major international summits in Santiago.
The unrest began last month over a subway fare hike with students jumping turnstiles in protest. Demonstrations then erupted into clashes, looting and arson and the movement spread nationwide with a broad range of demands, including improvements in education, health care and a widely criticized pension system in one of Latin America's richest, but most socially unequal countries.
"We still haven't achieved anything, so we're going to keep protesting," said 17-year-old student Ginette Pérez, who joined the crowds flooding the streets Friday.
Most demonstrators say they are fed up with the so-called neoliberal economic model that has left Chile with region-topping prosperity along with a two-tiered health and education systems that blend the public and private, with better results for the minority who can afford to pay.
Many Chileans talk of waiting a year for an appointment with a medical specialist, or families receiving calls to finally set up appointments for loved ones who died months earlier. Hundreds of thousands are hobbled by educational loans that can follow them into their 40s and even 50s.
"I'll still be paying my degree ... in 20 or 30 years," said 28-year-old college student Nicole Muñoz, who is studying to become a veterinarian.
As night fell, most demonstrators began to return home, but hundreds of hooded protesters danced in circles around a huge flaming barricade. Police continued to fire tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse the crowd.
Friday's demonstrations in the capital began with truck drivers and students protesting against a series of measures announced by Chilean President Sebastián Piñera to crack down on vandals and looting, which some said could exacerbate the violence.
Piñera has also announced economic measures in an effort to contain the protests, but many Chileans say they are not enough, and some are demanding his resignation.
Dissension appeared to be spreading in police forces across Bolivia on Friday as opposing sides in the country's political divide held fast to their positions after 17 days of violent protests over the legitimacy of President Evo Morales' claimed re-election.
Defense Minister Javier Zabaleta said a "police mutiny occurred in a few regions," but he rejected the idea of a military intervention "at this time."
The disputed results of the Oct. 20 election have triggered a wave of protests across Bolivia, which have resulted in three deaths dead and more than 300 injuries.
Earlier in the day, opposition leader Luis Fernando Camacho vowed not to leave the capital of La Paz until Morales personally accepts a resignation letter drafted for him. At a separate public event, Morales repeated that he is not resigning
In the evening, a small group of police officers staged a rebellion in the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba, apparently demanding the resignation of their commander, who has been accused of siding with Morales' supporters during clashes this week that left one person dead and more than 100 injured.
Television stations broadcast images of the 18 police officers standing on the roof of the special operations tactical unit in Cochabamba, waving flags and singing the national anthem as a large crowd of people in the street cheered.
Hundreds of residents in other cities clamored outside local police stations urging officers to "follow their example." Police in Santa Cruz, an opposition stronghold, affixed a sign on their station saying they were revolting. Police officers in other cities left the streets and returned to their stations, without explaining why.
Morales convened an emergency meeting with his ministers and military high command to analyze the situation.
"There is no order. There will be no military operation at this time. It's discarded," Zabaleta said following the meeting.
Gen. Yuri Calderón, head of the national police, had previously denied that a police rebellion was under way and called the Cochabamba incident "isolated."
"There is normalcy in the rest of the country and we hope that services will resume," he said.
Later, the government later denounced what it called "an attempted coup," accusing the opposition of plotting to oust Morales.
Morales declared himself the outright winner even before official results indicated he obtained just enough support to avoid a runoff with former President Carlos Mesa. But a 24-hour lapse in releasing vote results fueled allegations of fraud by the opposition.
The Organization of American States is conducting an audit of the election count and their findings are expected Monday or Tuesday. The opposition says it will not accept the results because they were not consulted on how the process would unfold.
Protests have been most intense in La Paz, Potosí and Santa Cruz, that latter an opposition stronghold where Camacho, president of the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee, is based.
On Thursday in La Paz, members of the tourism sector marched in the middle of an anti-Morales demonstration holding white balloons and urging calm.
"We are asking for peace. We don't have a position in favor or against. We are asking that both sides hear us," Sergio Rengel, a leader in the tourism sector, told The Associated Press. "It's been 17 days in which we've been losing about $5 million a day."
Morales' bid for re-election was controversial before it began. The former union leader, and Bolivia's first indigenous president, has shepherded significant economic growth and an overhaul of the constitution. But he refused to accept the results of a referendum upholding term limits. The country's constitutional court later ruled that term limits violated his human right to run for office, and the electoral court ultimately accepted his candidacy for a fourth term.