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Syria Rivalry Sharply Splits Jihadist Ranks

Rivalry between jihadist groups fighting in Syria has sharply divided global militant ranks once loosely allied under Al-Qaida, sparking infighting which experts say has hampered efforts to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

And while senior leaders of Al-Qaida were all but above question under revered founder Osama bin Laden, the conflict has gone so far that even his replacement Ayman al-Zawahiri has come in for fierce criticism on jihadist forums online.

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Syria Army Advances in Homs as Car Bomb Kills 14

Syrian army forces advanced Friday around rebel-held areas of the Old City of Homs, as a car bomb hit a regime-controlled part of the city, killing 14 people.

Around 1,200 rebel fighters and nearly 200 civilians are believed to be inside the rebel-held parts of the Old City, under army siege for nearly two years.

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Tunisia Assembly Begins to Wade through Electoral Law

Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly or parliament on Friday began voting article by article on a new electoral law to govern legislative and presidential elections due before the end of 2014.

Just 139 of a total of 217 deputies were on hand to examine the articles before the assembly's vice president, Meherzia Laabidi, adjourned to try to reach an agreement how to proceed.

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Algeria's Bouteflika, Ailing but Still President

Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who won a fourth presidential term on Friday with nearly 82 percent of the votes cast, was victorious despite frail health preventing him from even campaigning.

The ailing 77-year-old had to vote from a wheelchair on Thursday after not appearing in public since May 2012.

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Moroccan King Attends Prayers in Disputed Western Sahara

Morocco's King Mohamed VI attended weekly Friday prayers during a rare visit to Western Sahara, official media reported, ahead of a U.N. vote on the disputed territory.

MAP news agency said the king attended the prayers alongside the visiting interior minister of the Ivory Coast, Hamed Bakayoko.

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Algeria's Bouteflika Wins 4th Term, Rival Rejects Result

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika clinched a fourth term on Friday, despite his poor health, winning a landslide victory in an election marred by low turnout and his rival alleging fraud.

The 77-year-old incumbent who voted from a wheelchair on Thursday scooped 81.53 percent of the votes, compared with his main rival, Ali Benflis, who received 12.18 percent, Interior Minister Tayeb Belaiz told a news conference.

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Analysts Say Gulf Deal Leaves the Ball in Qatar's Court

Wealthy Gulf Arab states have reached a "vague" compromise to thaw tensions over the Muslim Brotherhood with Qatar which has yet to prove its good intentions, analysts say.

Thursday's deal between the six Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers did not, however, mention the return of Saudi, Emirati, and Bahraini ambassadors withdrawn from Doha in an unprecedented move on March 5.

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Landmine Kills Tunisian Soldier in Remote Border Area

A landmine blast killed a soldier on Friday in western Tunisia's Mount Chaambi area, the defense ministry said, after warning of the growing threat from jihadists in the remote region.

"A landmine exploded inside the closed military zone at 11:45 am (1045 GMT). The driver of a military vehicle was killed," ministry spokesman Taoufik Rahmouni told Agence France Presse.

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14 Killed in Homs Explosion as Syria Army Advances in Besieged City

Syrian army forces advanced Friday around rebel-held areas of the Old City of Homs, as a car bomb hit a regime-controlled part of the city, killing 14 people.

Around 1,200 rebel fighters and nearly 200 civilians are believed to be inside the rebel-held parts of the Old City, under army siege for nearly two years.

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Kidnappers of Diplomat Want Tunis to Free Jailed Libyans

Tunis said Friday that the kidnappers of a Tunisian diplomat in Tripoli and an embassy colleague are demanding the release of Libyans jailed in Tunisia on terrorism charges.

Al-Aroussi Kontassi, the diplomat, was abducted Thursday in the Libyan capital, a month after Tunisian embassy employee Mohamed ben Sheikh was seized in Tripoli.

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