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Tanks Storm Syrian Flashpoint City Banias

Syrian troops backed by tanks swept early Saturday into Banias, a hub of anti-regime protests, as residents formed human chains in a bid to halt the military operation, rights activists said.

Electricity and communications were cut as the tanks entered along three axes heading towards the southern sector of the city on the Mediterranean coast, the bastion of the protesters.

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U.S. Warns of More Steps Against Syria, Welcomes EU Sanctions

The United States warned Friday it would take "additional steps" against Syria if it continues a brutal crackdown on protesters, a week after imposing tough sanctions on the Arab nation.

"The United States believes that Syria's deplorable actions toward its people warrant a strong international response," the White House said in one of its strongest statements yet since the outbreak of unrest there.

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Report: U.S. Targeted Awlaqi in Yemen Drone Strike

A U.S. drone attack in Yemen targeted but failed to kill U.S.-Yemeni cleric and terror suspect Anwar al-Awlaqi, who is linked to al-Qaida and considered a major threat to the United States, U.S. media reported Friday.

The drone attack Thursday killed two local members of the militant network, a security source and witnesses told Agence France Presse in Yemen.

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Ban: Disarmament of Armed Groups Can Best Be Achieved through Political Process

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon remains convinced that the disarmament of armed groups in Lebanon, in particular Hizbullah, can best be achieved through a political process, a U.N. spokesman said.

"He calls on Lebanese leaders to reconvene the national dialogue under the auspices of President Michel Suleiman," the spokesman Farhan Haq said.

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EU Slaps Sanctions on 13 Syrian Officials, Spares Assad for Now

The European Union on Friday agreed punitive sanctions against 13 Syrian officials involved in the regime's violent crackdown on protests, but momentarily held off sanctioning President Bashar al-Assad.

Diplomats told Agence France Presse that ambassadors from the 27-nation bloc would take a new look on Monday at whether to add Assad's name on a list of Syrians to be hit by an assets freeze and travel ban.

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30 Dead, Top Dissident Held in Syria 'Day of Defiance' Demos

Syria's security forces shot dead 30 people Friday, a Syrian human rights activist told the AP, as thousands rallied on a "Day of Defiance" against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad after tanks converged on protest centers.

At the same time, "armed criminal gangs" killed one officer and four policemen, state news agency SANA said.

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Al-Qaida Confirms bin Laden Death and Vows Revenge

The al-Qaida terror network confirmed the death of its leader Osama bin Laden Friday and swore revenge for his killing by elite U.S. commandos, the SITE monitoring group reported.

In a statement posted on jihadist Internet forums, the Islamist group behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States said it would release an audio tape made by its Saudi-born founder a week before his death.

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Omar Bakri Calls for Prayers for Bin Laden

Radical cleric Omar Bakri, on bail in Lebanon on charges including incitement to murder, has called for prayers to mourn Osama bin Laden in Lebanon and outside U.S. embassies around the world.

"We call on our followers in Europe, Canada and especially Britain to pray for his soul outside American embassies," Bakri, who was based in Britain for nearly two decades, told Agence France Presse.

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Yemen's Saleh Vows to Resist 'Outlaw' Protesters

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told a mass rally of supporters on Friday that he would resist calls to quit, describing as "outlaws" tens of thousands of protesters gathered a short distance away.

"I can assure you that I will resist," Saleh told the crowd in the capital Sanaa's Sabbine Square after taking part in the main weekly Muslim prayers at nearby Tahrir Square.

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U.S. Drone Attack Kills 8 in Pakistan

U.S. drones fired a salvo of missiles into a compound in Pakistan's tribal district of North Waziristan on Friday, killing eight suspected militants including al-Qaida members, officials said.

The attack came just four days after U.S. Special Forces commandos shot dead al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad, hundreds of kilometers from the tribal belt and just two hours' drive from the capital.

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