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Father of French Woman Abducted in Yemen Appeals to Kidnappers

The father of a French woman taken hostage in Yemen on Thursday called on her kidnappers "to show their humanity" and release her free along with the Yemenite woman taken at the same time.

"We face up to this challenge with confidence, and we are staying close to the French authorities with whom we are in permanent contact and who we know are determined to see our daughter set free," Jean-Noel Prime said in a statement sent to Agence France-Presse.

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Sweden Jails Former Syrian Rebel over 'Torture' Video

A Swedish court on Thursday sentenced a former Syrian rebel to five years in prison for war crimes over the beating of a pro-regime fighter that was shown in a "torture video".

The verdict against 28-year-old Mouhannad Droubi is the first case of a Syrian citizen being convicted in Sweden for crimes committed in the war-torn country.

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Several Canadians Headed to Syria to Join IS

At least six young Canadian men and women from Montreal and its suburbs traveled overseas last month to join the Islamic State group, local media reported Thursday.

Some of them, including two young women, were students at Montreal CEGEP College de Maisonneuve.

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Jerusalem Church Building Torched in Apparent Hate Crime

Suspected Jewish extremists set fire to a Greek Orthodox seminary building in Jerusalem early Thursday, police said, 24 hours after a mosque was torched in the West Bank.

The vandals torched an annexe of the seminary near the walls of the Old City and scrawled "graffiti insulting Jesus", police spokeswoman Luba Samri said, describing it as a "nationalist" attack.

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Yemen Leader Meets U.N. Envoy in Southern Refuge Aden

Yemen's President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi met Thursday with the U.N. envoy in Aden, as the southern city increasingly became the country's de facto political and diplomatic capital instead of militia-held Sanaa.

Saudi Arabia also announced its envoy was resuming his duties in Aden, after several Arab and Western nations closed their embassies in Sanaa this month over security fears.

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Palestinian Ministers Let out of Gaza for Cabinet Meeting

Israel allowed two Gaza-based Palestinian ministers to travel to the West Bank for a cabinet meeting Thursday for the first time since the unity government took office in June, officials said.

Housing minister Mufid Hasayneh and justice minister Salim al-Saqa passed through the Israeli-controlled Erez border crossing and arrived in Ramallah, government spokesman Ihab Bseiso told AFP.

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Assyrian Christians Describe Harrowing Flight from IS

Danny Jano, an Assyrian Christian, fled with his family in their pyjamas when they heard that Islamic State group jihadists were approaching their home in northeast Syria.

"It was the longest and most difficult five hours of my life," he said by telephone from the provincial capital Hasakeh where they took refuge.

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U.S. Christians Back Emerging Private War on Iraq Jihadists

After fighting with rebels in Libya and Syria, Matthew VanDyke has rolled up in northern Iraq, but the celebrity American revolutionary-cum-filmmaker has traded his fatigues for a three-piece suit.

VanDyke, who rose to fame as a foreign fighter backing Libyan rebels against Moamer Kadhafi, has just finished leading his new military contracting firm through its first assignment -- training Christian volunteers to take on jihadists.

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U.N. Envoy Expected in Syria on Friday

U.N. Syria peace envoy Staffan de Mistura will arrive in Damascus on Friday for talks on a bid to freeze fighting in Aleppo, the Al-Watan newspaper reported Thursday.

"De Mistura will discuss his proposal with the Syrian ministry of foreign affairs," Al-Watan, which is close to the government, said citing "well-informed sources".

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Tunisia to Get 8 Black Hawks for Fight against Jihadists

Tunisia will take delivery of eight Black Hawk attack helicopters from the United States this year to help it in the fight against Al-Qaida-linked jihadists, an official said Thursday.

Defense ministry spokesman Belhassen Oueslati told the private radio station Shems FM that the aircraft would arrive in the second half of 2015.

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