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In Tense West Bank City, Palestinians Try to Fill a Void

Palestinian activists are trying to fill the void following Israel's expulsion of an international observer force from a volatile West Bank city by launching their own patrols to document alleged Israeli settler violence.

The activists in Hebron don blue vests and are armed with video cameras.

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U.S.-Backed Syrian Forces Clearing IS Remnants from Villages

U.S.-backed Syrian forces were clearing two villages in eastern Syria on Thursday of remaining Islamic State militants who are hiding among the local population, and detaining others attempting to flee with the civilians, the U.S.-led coalition said.

The coalition said the clearance operations were taking place in the villages of Shajalah and Baghouz, near the border with Iraq.

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Powerful Storm Dumps More Rain and Snow across the West

Heavy rain again raised the risk of mudslides in Southern California burn areas where evacuations were ordered during a powerful storm that flooded roads, toppled trees and cut power further north.

The system known as an atmospheric river snaked through southern Oregon, Northern California and western Nevada while feeding on a deep plume of moisture stretching across the Pacific Ocean to near Hawaii, the National Weather Service said.

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U.S. Delivers Laser-Guided Rockets to Lebanese Army

The United States said Wednesday that it “pleased to announce the delivery today of the shipment of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rockets,” valued at more than $16 million and destined for the Lebanese Army.

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Israeli Leader Hopes Summit Brings Arab Ties Out in the Open

The Mideast conference in Poland starting Wednesday offers Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an opportunity to flaunt in public what he has long boasted about happening behind the scenes — his country's improved relations with Arab nations.

Several Gulf dignitaries are expected to attend in a potential show of force against uninvited Iran. But the Palestinians are urging a boycott of the conference, and it remains to be seen whether Arab officials will make any public overtures to Netanyahu without a major concession to the Palestinian cause, which still animates the Arab public.

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Iconic Palestinian Robe Fashions a New Political Symbol

The traditional brightly embroidered dress of Palestinian women known as the "thobe" was not the type of garment one would expect to become a pop political symbol.

Now it's gaining prominence as a softer expression of Palestinian nationalism, competing even with the classic keffiyeh — the headscarf donned by young stone-throwing Palestinian men protesting Israel's occupation.

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17 Killed in Fire at New Delhi Hotel, 4 Others Hurt

A fire engulfed a shoddily built budget hotel in central New Delhi early Tuesday, killing 17 people and injuring at least four others, Indian authorities said.

Most of the deaths at the Arpit Palace Hotel were due to suffocation, said Satyendar Kumar Jain, the Delhi government cabinet minister of health and urban development.

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Socialist Maduro Seeks to Raise Dollars with Appeal to Greed

When Jose Humberto Vivas needs to trade dollars for Venezuelan bolivars, he usually flouts the nation's rigid exchange controls by turning to illegal currency traders.

But last week, Vivas put a few hundred dollars in his wallet and headed to an exchange house regulated by Venezuela's socialist government, lured by the seemingly improbable prospect of an official rate that is more inviting than the black market rate.

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Grammys Fashion Include Sparkles, Sequins and Statement Hats

Sparkly, studded and strutting in designer looks, the Grammys parade of often out-there fashion kicked off in a downpour Sunday, but that didn't dampen spirits as the music industry's best showed off their myriad outfits.

Cardi B had a spot of trouble walking in a sculpted look that evoked a mermaid in the half shell, pearls included. It was hatched in 1995 by Thierry Mugler. Michelle Obama popped up in a metallic trouser outfit onstage, Jennifer Lopez donned a huge white bejeweled hat and Lady Gaga chose a silver strapless sequin gown with a high slit and side ruffle, thanks to Celine.

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Iraqi Christians Fear Returning Home, Wary of Shiite Militia

In the main square in the northern Iraqi town of Bartella stands a large cross, one of the few overt signs the town was historically Christian.

Nearby, a massive billboard shows Shiite Muslim martyrs alongside a photo of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini. Posters of Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen killed in fighting with the Islamic State group hang on streets all around the city, along with banners to revered historical Shiite saints.

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