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Iran Official: U.S. Aircraft Carrier Spotted in Wargames Zone

A U.S. aircraft carrier entered a zone near the Strait of Hormuz being used by the Iranian navy for wargames, an Iranian official said Thursday amid rising tensions over the key oil-transit channel.

"A U.S. aircraft carrier was spotted inside the maneuver zone... by a navy reconnaissance aircraft," Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi, the spokesman for the Iranian exercises, told the official IRNA news agency.

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Turkish Air Strikes Kill 35 Kurds Near Iraq Border

A Turkish air raid on a Kurdish area near the Iraq border killed at least 35 people, with the military apparently mistaking smugglers for separatist rebels, officials said Thursday.

The Turkish authorities said its warplanes targeted militants from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on the Iraqi side of the border.

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China Police Kill 7 ‘Terrorist’ Hostage-takers in Xinjiang

China said Thursday police killed seven "terrorists" who took hostages in the nation's restive Xinjiang region during a rescue operation that left one police officer dead.

The incident is the latest reported violent confrontation in the region -- home to roughly nine million Turkic-speaking Uighurs who have long bristled under Chinese rule -- since three deadly attacks in July left dozens dead.

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Paris Asks Iran to Respect Navigation Rights in Hormuz amid U.S. Warning

The U.S. warned Iran on Wednesday against any attempt to disrupt shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, after Tehran issued threats over the vital oil route, as France called on Iranian authorities to respect international law and navigation rights.

"Interference with the transit ... of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz will not be tolerated," said Pentagon press secretary George Little.

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Jordan Urges End to Syria Violence, Blames Israel for Peace Impasse

Jordan on Wednesday urged an end to "killing" in Syria, and called for reforms in its northern neighbor, where the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have died in a crackdown on dissent.

"Killing in Syria must stop and the promised reforms must be implemented without delay," Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said in a lecture at the Royal Jordanian National Defense College.

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Berlin Discusses Activist's Beating with Syrian Envoy

The German foreign ministry said it was holding talks with Syria's ambassador to Berlin Wednesday regarding accusations that the regime's secret services had attacked an opposition member in Germany.

A ministry spokesman said its political director would discuss with Syria's envoy the beating of a local Green party politician of Syrian origin, Ferhard Ahma, at his home early Monday.

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Govt. Calls on Higher Defense Council to Convene to Address Ghosn’s Qaida Claims

Information Minister Walid al-Daouq stated on Wednesday that Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn has received information from security authorities on the infiltration of al-Qaida members of the Bekaa town of Arsal and their entry into Syria, adding that the government urged the security forces and Lebanese army to properly monitor the border with Syria.

He said after a cabinet session: “The government called on the Higher Defense Council to convene in order to address the minister’s allegations.”

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France Says Arab Observers Not Allowed to See 'Reality' in Homs

Arab League observers have not been allowed to determine the real situation in Syria's protest hub of Homs and should return for the full picture, the French foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

"A few Arab League observers were able to be briefly present in Homs yesterday. Their presence did not prevent the continuing of the bloody crackdown in this city, where large demonstrations were violently repressed, leaving about 10 dead," ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

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Israel Okays 130 Homes in East Jerusalem

Jerusalem municipality on Wednesday approved plans for another 130 housing units in Gilo, a settlement neighborhood in the annexed eastern sector of the Holy City, a city councilor told Agence France Presse.

Pepe Alalu of the left-wing Meretz party said the district planning committee had given the green light to a project to build 130 homes in three 12-storey tower blocks on the eastern outskirts of Gilo which lies just a few kilometers north of Bethlehem.

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EU to Pursue Iran Sanctions Despite Threat of Strait Closure

The European Union is pressing ahead with plans to impose new sanctions on Iran, an EU spokesman said Wednesday after Tehran threatened to close a vital oil transit channel in response to Western measures.

"The European Union is considering another set of sanctions against Iran and we continue to do that," Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign affairs Chief Catherine Ashton, told Agence France Presse.

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