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Syria Chemical Handover Nearly Complete

Syria has nearly completed surrendering its chemical weapons stockpile, a joint task force in charge of the operation said Thursday, as U.N. Security Council members called for a fresh probe into alleged gas attacks.

"Today's operation brings the total of chemical material removed and destroyed to 92.5 percent," the combined Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-U.N. task team said in a statement.

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Kuwait MPs Ask to Quiz PM over Alleged Corruption

Three opposition MPs on Thursday sought to question Kuwait's prime minister, accusing him of giving cash handouts to lawmakers and mismanagement in sovereign wealth fund investments.

The request, filed by Riyadh al-Adasani, Abdulkarim al-Kundari and Hussein al-Mutairi, could lead to a no-confidence vote that may force Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah's dismissal.

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EU Welcomes Palestinian Unity Deal but Says Priority is Peace Talks

The European Union welcomed Thursday the unity accord between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas but said the priority remains peace talks with Israel.

"The EU's top priority is that the current talks continue beyond April 29," said a spokesman for EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton, referring to the deadline for a U.S.-led effort to broker a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal.

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Sudan Seeks Probe into Killing of Nationals in S. Sudan

Sudan called on Thursday for an investigation into the "assassination" of its nationals in a South Sudan oil town, where the U.N. has accused rebels of killing hundreds of civilians.

"The foreign ministry condemns assassination of the Sudanese nationals in Bentiu and calls for urgent investigation," the official SUNA news agency said in an SMS alert.

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U.S. Envoy Issues Warning on Extremism during Libya Visit

The second-ranking U.S. diplomat warned on Thursday during a visit to Libya that the threat of extremism is an "enormous challenge" for the North African country and the international community.

William Burns is the most senior American official to travel to Libya since an assault on the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi killed four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens, in 2012.

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Yemen Qaida Gunmen Seize Hospitals to Treat Wounded

Al-Qaida militants have seized hospitals in southern Yemen to treat wounded comrades following blistering air strikes that killed scores of gunmen in two days, medics said Thursday.

An intensive aerial campaign by U.S. drones and Yemeni jet fighters on al-Qaida bases in the rugged mountains of nearby Abyan province killed some 70 militants over the weekend.

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Analysts: Palestinian Unity Deal Faces Reality Check

This week's Palestinian reconciliation deal faces a swift reality check, with President Mahmoud Abbas the focus of both Israeli fury and U.S. concern and Hamas seeking to salvage relations with Egypt.

"Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) had no option but to reconcile," Naji Sharab, a political science professor at Gaza's al-Azhar University, told Agence France Presse.

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Businessman Second Hopeful for Syria Presidential Vote

A businessman who studied in the United States on Thursday became the second hopeful to register for Syria's controversial June presidential election which is expected to return incumbent Bashar Assad to office.

Like the first would-be candidate to declare, Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri is a member of the regime-tolerated opposition.

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Algerian Blogger Held for 7 Months Freed on Bail

A young Algerian blogger, held since September for posting cartoons on the Internet mocking the president, has been granted bail ahead of his trial, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Abdelghani Aloui "was freed on bail on Wednesday by the indictment division of the court of Sidi M'Hamed in Algiers," Amine Sidhoum told AFP.

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Syrian Observatory: Air Raid Kills 21 at Aleppo Market

An air strike on a market on Thursday killed at least 21 people, including three children, in a village of the north Syrian province of Aleppo, a monitoring group said.

The deadly raid comes amid a massive aerial offensive targeting opposition-held areas across Aleppo city and province that began in December 15.

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