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Salehi 'Hopes' Iran Court will Free Americans

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi hopes that the trial of two U.S. citizens detained in the Islamic republic on espionage charges will lead to their freedom, local media reported Saturday.

"We hope that the trial of these two (U.S.) nationals will proceed in a manner that will result in their freedom," Salehi was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

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'Family Guy' Creator to Lead 'Cosmos' Remake

Popular 80s TV series "Cosmos," which taught a generation about the universe's origins, will be reborn in a new version spearheaded by "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, Fox said Thursday.

The new series, "Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey," will explain the laws of nature and humans' place in space and time, the television network said.

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5 Killed as 8 al-Qaida Members, Shiite Militiamen Escape Iraq Jail

Four prisoners and a guard were killed in clashes at a prison in the central Iraqi city of Hilla, during which eight inmates escaped, officials said on Saturday.

The clashes, in which nine people were also wounded, broke out after a prisoner seized a rifle from a guard and killed him, said Mohammed Ali al-Massudi, the governor of Babil province, of which Hilla is the capital.

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Activists: 24 Demonstrators Killed by Assad Regime in Latest Protests

Activists said Saturday that at least 24 Syrian civilians have been killed as security forces fired on anti-government protesters as part of a nationwide crackdown.

Syria-based rights activist Mustafa Osso said most of the deaths occurred in Damascus suburbs during daytime Friday protests and late night demonstrations following evening Ramadan prayers.

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U.S.-Bahrain Defense Pact Renewed

U.S. officials and their counterparts in Bahrain, which crushed month-long protests in mid-March, have renewed a defense pact, officials said Friday.

The two countries inked a 10-year defense agreement on October 28, 1991, seven months after the Gulf War, that was renewed in October 2001 for the same duration.

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31 U.S. Troops Killed in Afghan Chopper Crash

A total of 31 members of the U.S. special forces have died in a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan along with seven Afghans, a statement from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office said Saturday.

"The president of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai expressed condolences over a NATO helicopter crash and the deaths of 31 members of U.S. special forces," the statement said.

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Gunman Killed after Firing at Saudi Prince's Palace

Security forces shot dead a gunman as he opened fire on the Jeddah palace of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz early on Saturday, said a source close to the government.

Another man was arrested during the attack in which "two men opened fire after midnight on the Qasr Shateh residence of Prince Nayef (and) the security forces retaliated, killing one of them," the source told Agence France Presse.

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U.S. Soldier Gets 3 Years for Afghan Killing Spree

A member of a rogue U.S. Army unit was sentenced to three years' prison Friday after pleading guilty to killing an unarmed Afghan civilian in U.S. custody in May 2010.

Specialist Adam Winfield, 23, of Coral Gables, Fla., had been charged with premeditated murder, aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit murder in several incidents, including the deaths of three Afghan civilians in Kandahar Province.

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Pentagon: U.S. Military to Shorten Soldier Tours of Duty

The U.S. Army will shorten the length of tours of duty for personnel deployed in combat zones from a year to nine months, as it pursues its withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Friday.

"This policy will not affect personnel or units currently deployed or deploying prior to Jan. 1, 2012," the secretary of the army, John McHugh, said in a statement, adding the move would be fully in effect by April 2012.

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Chavez Going Back to Cuba for 2nd Round of Chemo, Offers Gadhafi ‘Big Hug’

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday that he has asked legislators to give him permission to return to Cuba for a second round of chemotherapy for his cancer.

The National Assembly's secretariat announced that the body would hold a special session Saturday to vote on authorization for Chavez to leave the country.

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