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Reports: Britain to Pull Hundreds of Troops from Afghanistan

British Prime Minister David Cameron is to announce the withdrawal of at least 500 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012 following a similar drawdown by the United States, reports said Sunday.

The move would take the number of British troops in Afghanistan below the key figure of 9,000 and mark a major step towards Cameron's stated aim of having all British combat forces out of the country by 2015.

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Syrian Troops Press Sweep for Dissidents in Northwest

The Syrian army pressed a crackdown on dissent in the northwest on Sunday making sweeping arrests, as troops deployed in the hotbed central city of Hama, an activist said.

Troops backed by 97 tanks and personnel carriers advanced late Saturday on Kfar Rumma village and made arrests in the district of Jabal al-Zawiyah, said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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Hamas Govt. Calls on Greece to Let Gaza Flotilla Sail

The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip on Sunday called on Greece to allow a flotilla of aid ships to set sail for the Israeli-blockaded Palestinian territory.

"We regret the position of Greece, which has responded to international pressure to stop the Freedom Flotilla from sailing," Hamas foreign minister Mohammed Awad told a news conference at Gaza's port.

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Gunmen Kill 5 Policemen in Western Iraq

Gunmen killed five Iraqi policemen in a drive-by shooting at a checkpoint in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, on Sunday, a police officer said.

"At 8:30 am (0530 GMT), gunmen riding in a car and carrying automatic weapons killed five policemen guarding a checkpoint, before fleeing," the officer in the provincial capital Ramadi said.

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Gaza Rocket Slams into Southern Israel

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck open fields in southern Israel on Sunday, causing no damage or injuries, the Israeli army said.

"A rocket fired from Gaza fell this morning on open land in the Eshkol region," a spokeswoman told Agence France Presse.

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2nd Israel Rabbi Questioned over Racist Book as Supporters Burn Tires

Israeli police briefly detained a rabbi on Sunday over his endorsement of a controversial book that justifies the killing of non-Jews in certain circumstances, a police spokesman said on Sunday.

The brief detention and questioning of rabbi Yaakov Yosef, son of one of Israel's leading religious leaders, prompted his supporters to take to the streets in parts of Jerusalem, burning tires and blocking the city's light railway.

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Hizbullah Rules Out Arrests in 'Void' U.N. Hariri Case

Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday ruled out the arrest of four members of his party indicted by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon for the 2005 assassination of Lebanese former premier Rafik Hariri.

In his first reaction to the charges by the STL, Nasrallah also rejected "each and every void accusation" made by the Netherlands-based court, which he said was heading for a trial in absentia.

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Pakistan Mounts Search for 2 Swiss Hostages

Pakistan has launched a search operation and engaged tribal elders to help secure the release of a Swiss couple abducted in the insurgency-hit southwest, officials said Saturday.

The Swiss nationals were kidnapped on Friday while traveling in impoverished and sparsely populated Baluchistan province, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan.

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Iran Denies Smuggling Weapons to Iraq, Afghanistan

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmed Vahidi dismissed as "ridiculous lies" U.S. claims that Tehran smuggled weapons to Iraq and Afghanistan, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Saturday.

"The ridiculous and repeated lies of the Americans are aimed at justifying their own errors," General Vahidi was quoted as saying.

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Lady Gaga Wows Taiwan on First Visit

Pop diva Lady Gaga arrived in Taiwan on Friday to kick off her first visit to the island, sporting a long black and gold wig and blowing kisses to the delight of fans.

Several cable news channels broadcast live as Lady Gaga got off her private jet and walked towards the waiting media before posing briefly for photos.

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