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EU Says Turkey Must Keep Border Open to Syrian Refugees

Top EU officials on Saturday reminded Turkey of its international obligations to keep its frontiers open to refugees as thousands fleeing a new government offensive in Syria remained camped out along its southern border.

Up to 20,000 Syrians may be stranded on the border, officials say, trying to get into Turkey which already hosts more than two million refugees from the bloody conflict.

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Moscow Rejects Blame for Syria Talks Breakdown

Russia on Friday curtly rejected Western accusations that it had sabotaged Syria peace talks in Geneva, and said it had some "new ideas" on how to move the stalled negotiations forward.

Western countries renewed their charges that Moscow torpedoed the talks by using its air power to back a Syrian government offensive in Aleppo while the sides were gathered in Geneva.

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Hotel Fire in Iraqi Kurdish Region Kills 19

A fire at a hotel in the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region killed 19 people and injured dozens more on Friday, officials said.

Fourteen of the dead were from the Philippines, while three Iraqis, a Palestinian and another person of unknown nationality also died, said Saman Barzanji, director general of the Arbil health department.

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120 Regime, Rebel Fighters Killed Friday in Battle for Aleppo Town

More than 120 members of Syrian regime forces and rebels were killed Friday in heavy fighting for a town north of Aleppo city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based monitor said rebels had regained control of more than half of the town of Ratyan in the fierce clashes, leaving about 60 opposition fighters and 60 regime forces dead.

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IS Claims Suicide Attacks Targeting Iraqi Forces

The Islamic State group said that five of its suicide bombers attacked Iraqi forces in Anbar province on Friday and that a sixth targeted pro-government fighters north of Baghdad.

IS said five bombers infiltrated and attacked a housing complex belonging to the Al-Asad military base in Anbar province, west of the capital, sparking hours of clashes with security forces before the militants detonated suicide belts.

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Palestinian Journalist Keeps up Hunger Strike

Ailing Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qiq will keep up his 10-week hunger strike despite Israel suspending a detention without trial order against him, his lawyer said on Friday.

The 33-year-old television reporter, who still cannot leave hospital without permission, is "determined to continue his fast until he is freed", Jawad Boulos told AFP.

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Leftwing Israel NGOs Condemn Harassment, Death Threats

Israeli leftwing NGOs on Friday jointly condemned attempts to depict their leaders as foreign agents, saying that such claims have led to harassment and even death threats.

Five leftwing NGOs held a rare joint press conference in Tel Aviv to express their concern at increasingly personal attacks they have been subjected to in recent months.

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De Mistura Wants to See Willingness to Reach Syria Peace Deal

The U.N.'s Syria envoy said Friday he was looking for confirmation that key international players were willing to push ahead with peace talks after he suspended the latest attempt at negotiations in Geneva.

In an interview with the Italian daily La Repubblica, Staffan de Mistura said he would meet next week in Munich with the countries that are part of an international group seeking a solution to Syria's five-year war, in particular the United States, Russia and Iran. 

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Palestinian Teen Killed after Throwing Petrol Bomb at Israeli Troops

A Palestinian teenager threw a petrol bomb at Israeli soldiers in the south of the occupied West Bank and was shot dead on Friday, the Israeli military said.

At least two Palestinians threw a Molotov cocktail at a military jeep on patrol close to Halhul north of the West Bank city of Hebron, a military spokeswoman said.

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Human Rights Watch Praises Tunisia on Judicial Reforms

Human Rights Watch has praised Tunisia on judicial reforms which it said amounted to a "significant breakthrough" in protecting the rights of detainees.

Parliament on Tuesday approved amendments to Article 13 of Tunisia's penal code to fall in line with the new constitution adopted two years ago as part of the country's political transition from dictatorship to democracy.

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