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Aid Groups Urge Lebanese Army to Halt 'Punitive' Refugee Raids

Dozens of international aid groups are calling on Lebanese armed forces to put an end to a campaign of dismantling homes of Syrian refugees, calling it "punitive" and "traumatic."

The statement by 51 groups Friday comes following reports that Lebanese army personnel raided a community of 350 Syrian refugee homes in settlements in the northern town of Akkar around dawn a day earlier.

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New Zealand Police Arrest 2 British Men in Huge Meth Bust

New Zealand police said Friday they had arrested two British men after finding a huge stash of methamphetamine in an Auckland apartment that would have been worth tens of millions of dollars if sold on the street.

Police said they've been targeting a foreign criminal organization working in New Zealand as part of what they're calling Operation Essex. They say the bust was one of the largest of its type in New Zealand.

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Q&A: The Hajj Pilgrimage and Its Significance in Islam

Over 2 million Muslims from around the world are beginning the five-day hajj pilgrimage on Friday. They will circle Islam's most sacred site, the cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca, and take part in a series of rituals intended to bring about greater humility and unity among Muslims.

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Explosions at Turkish Ammunition Depot; No One Hurt

Turkey's state-run news agency says a series of explosions have occurred at a military ammunition depot near Turkey's border with Syria. No one was hurt.

Anadolu Agency says the cause of the explosions early Friday at the depot in the town of Reyhanli, in Hatay province, is not known. Fire broke out in some parts of the depot, the agency reported.

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Lebanese Daily Publishes Blank Edition to Protest Crisis

Lebanon's only English-language daily is protesting the country's deteriorating economic and political conditions by publishing a blank edition.

Each page of The Daily Star's Thursday edition bore a single phrase referring to one of the country's problems, including government deadlock, rising public debt, increasing sectarian rhetoric and unemployment. The back page had a photo of the cedar tree, a national symbol, with a caption reading: "Wake up before it's too late!"

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Gazans Struggle to Protect Antiquities from Neglect, Looting

Walid al-Aqqad's Gaza home would be the envy of many an antiquities collector.

Pieces of Corinthian columns greet visitors in the backyard. Inside, hundreds of ancient pots and other artifacts hang on the walls or are arranged helter-skelter on shelves.

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Turkish Military Move into Syria is High Risk

Turkey's combative president is threatening to launch a military operation in northeastern Syria that is designed to push back U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish forces — an invasion that carries major risks for a highly combustible region in war-devastated Syria.

An operation would mark the third Turkish incursion into Syria in the past four years — all seeking to limit the growing influence of Syrian Kurdish fighters, which Turkey views as terrorist along its border. Turkish and American military officials were meeting Monday and Tuesday in Ankara for last-ditch negotiations amid warnings from Turkish officials about a military buildup.

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A New Strongman in Sudan? Experts Aren't So Sure

When Sudan's protest leaders signed a preliminary power-sharing agreement with the ruling military council in early July, they had no choice but to shake hands with the man many of them accuse of ordering a massacre just a month earlier.

Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, a paramilitary commander from Darfur who is widely known as Hemedti, has emerged as Sudan's main power broker in the months since the military overthrew President Omar al-Bashir.

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UN Chief: Islamic State Has as Much as $300 Million to Fight

The Islamic State extremist group has been left with as much as $300 million following the loss of its so-called "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria, "with none of the financial demands of controlling territory and population," Secretary-General António Guterres said in a report released Monday.

The report to the Security Council on the threat posed by IS warns that the lull in attacks directed by the militant group "may be temporary."

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2 Mass Shootings in Less than 24 Hours Shock US; 29 Killed

It took just 30 seconds in Ohio and zero bullets in Texas for officers to stop two mass shooters this weekend, but not before 29 people were killed and about 50 injured in less than 24 hours.

Officers gunned down the Ohio shooter at the doorstep of a bar-turned-hiding place in the middle of Dayton's nightclub district, and arrested the El Paso shooter as hundreds fled a crowded shopping center. Though the two attacks staggered a nation accustomed to gun violence, the bigger shock may have been that the death toll wasn't worse.

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