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Saudi Arabia Asks Nations to Respond to Iran with 'Firmness'

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister on Thursday urged Muslim nations to confront with "all means of force and firmness" recent attacks in the Persian Gulf that U.S. and some Arab officials have blamed on Iran.

Ibrahim al-Assaf made the comments at a preparatory meeting of foreign ministers of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, ahead of a trio of summits in the kingdom's holy city of Mecca.

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Syrian Activists Say Bombing of Rebel Area Killed 5 People

Syrian rescue workers and activists say government warplanes have bombed the last rebel stronghold in the country again, levelling a building and killing five people inside it, including three members of a single family.

The Syrian Civil Defense, known as White Helmets, says its volunteers pulled bodies and survivors from under the collapsed building in Maaret al-Numan, a town in southern Idlib that was hit in an airstrike on Thursday.

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Lebanon, Israel Close to Framework for Land-Sea Border Talks

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Lebanon and Israel are close to establishing a framework for negotiations on demarcating the Lebanese-Israeli land and maritime borders.

In a statement, it said the form of negotiations to be held under United Nations auspices and the role of each of the concerned parties is still being worked out. The purported negotiations are to be overseen by Washington, which has been mediating between the two Mideast nations.

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Satellite Images Show Crops on Fire in Syria Rebel Enclave

New satellite photos show significant damage to Syrian villages and surrounding farmland as a result of a government offensive on the last rebel stronghold in the country.

The images, provided to The Associated Press by the Colorado-based Maxar Satellites on Tuesday, show fires in olive groves and orchards during harvest season around Kfar Nabudah and Habeet, two villages on the edge of Idlib province where fighting has focused. The fires were apparently sparked by intense bombing in the area.

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Ramadan in Mideast is for Fasting and Facebook, Data Shows

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with its long days of fasting and prayer meant to draw worshippers closer to God and away from worldly distractions, is being reshaped by technology.

People in the Middle East spend close to 58 million more hours on Facebook during Ramadan and watch more YouTube videos — everything from beauty tips and recipes to sports and TV dramas — than any other time of the year, making the holy month not only the most important one for Muslims, but also the prime time of the year for advertisers.

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Study Suggests e-Cigarette Flavorings May Pose Heart Risk

E-cigarettes aren't considered as risky as regular cigarettes, but researchers have found a clue that their flavorings may be bad for the heart.

Longtime smokers who can't kick the addiction sometimes switch to e-cigarettes, in hopes of avoiding the cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke.

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India's Modi Faces Foreign Pressures in 2nd Term

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a second term in office after responding to a suicide attack on Indian paramilitary forces in troubled Kashmir with an airstrike inside Pakistan, allowing him to turn voters' attention away from the country's highest unemployment rate in decades.

Now, after his swearing-in on Thursday, he will need to deftly navigate a trade war between the United States and China and rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran, an important source of cheap oil for India's fast-growing economy. Modi will also face pressure to protect India's traditional sphere of influence in South Asia.

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Europe at Crossroads as Far Right Makes Big Gains in Vote

The traditional centrist leaders of Europe have been assailed from the nationalist, anti-immigration far-right and the environmental activist left in polarized, continentwide elections that will force pro-European moderates into forging new alliances.

Right now, the main issue uniting those occupying Europe's center ground is their refusal to work with far-right groups whose ranks are made up of nationalist parties led by the likes of Matteo Salvini in Italy and Marine Le Pen in France, whose parties celebrated landmark triumphs as results emerged Sunday night and into Monday morning from four days of voting for the 751-seat European Parliament.

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4 Countries Vote in High-Stakes European Parliament Election

Voters in Slovakia, Malta, Latvia and the Czech Republic are casting ballots Saturday in European Parliament elections.

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Trump Says U.S. to Send 1,500 More Troops to Middle East

The U.S. will bolster its military presence in the Middle East with an additional 1,500 troops, President Donald Trump said Friday amid heightened tensions with Iran.

Trump said the troops would have a "mostly protective" role. He spoke to reporters on the White House lawn as he headed out on a trip to Japan.

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