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U.S. Launches Criminal Probe into Detainee Deaths in CIA Custody

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday launched a criminal investigation into the deaths of two detainee deaths in CIA custody, as it dropped probes into the vast majority of alleged CIA interrogation abuses.

Attorney General Eric Holder did not identify the two detainees who died in CIA custody in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks by al-Qaida on New York and Washington.

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U.N. Extends Golan Forces Mandate by Six Months

The U.N. Security Council on Thursday extended the mandate of the U.N. force monitoring the ceasefire in the Golan Heights between Syria and Israel by another six months.

The unanimous decision extends the mandate of the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) to December 31, 2011.

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20 Civilians Killed in Afghan Mine Bus Blast

Twenty Afghan civilians including women and children were killed in a volatile southwestern province Thursday when a landmine exploded under a bus they were travelling in, police said.

"An IED (improvised explosive device) struck a bus, 20 civilians were killed," said senior police figure Haji Mosa Rasooli, accusing the Taliban of being responsible for the blast.

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U.S. Senate Confirms Petraeus as CIA Chief

The U.S. Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly confirmed General David Petraeus, who won wide acclaim as commander of war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

Lawmakers voted 94-0 to approve the nomination of Petraeus to succeed outgoing CIA director Leon Panetta, whose own confirmation to take over for retiring US Defense Secretary Robert Gates sailed through 100-0 last week.

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Report: Turkey's FM to visit Syria

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Thursday that he plans to visit Syria, facing mounting criticism for its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, while on a tour of the region.

Davutoglu said that he hoped at the weekend "to leave for a tour of countries in the Middle East which will include Syria," the Anatolia news agency reported.

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Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood 'Open to U.S. Contacts'

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood told Agence France Presse on Thursday it was open to contacts with the United States as long as its "values are respected" but said there had been "no direct contacts" in the past.

"We are willing to meet in a context of respect. If the U.S. is truly willing to respect our values and support freedom as it says it does, then we have no problem," spokesman Mahmud Ghozlan said after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there had been "limited contacts" with the group.

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Special Tribunal for Lebanon: The First World Court to Try Terrorism

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which on Thursday issued arrest warrants in connection with the death of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, is the first international tribunal with jurisdiction over the crime of terrorism.

Opening its doors in The Hague on March 1, 2009, the STL was created by a 2007 U.N. Security Council resolution, at Lebanon's request, to try those responsible for Hariri's February 2005 assassination in a car bombing that also killed 22 other people.

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Syrian Troops Storm New Villages amid Aleppo Protests

Syrian troops swept into new villages in the northwest on Thursday amid anti-regime protests in the country’s second city Aleppo, activists said.

Around 60 tanks and armored personnel carriers rumbled into two villages in the countryside of Idlib, said Rami Abdul Rahman of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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Samsung Seeks U.S.Import Ban on Apple Products

South Korea's Samsung Electronics said Thursday it had asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban the import of Apple products into the United States, expanding its patent war with the U.S. giant.

The ITC has been urged to stop Apple shipping its popular iPods, iPhones and iPads into the U.S. market from where they are manufactured, a Samsung spokesman said.

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Formula One's Webber Learning to Fly

Not content with driving a Formula One car, Australian star Mark Webber now wants to fly planes and Qantas plans to help him.

The 34-year-old Red Bull driver used a B737 flight simulator ahead of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne this year and spent time at Heathrow airport in London on Wednesday in the cockpit of a A380 with a training captain.

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