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U.N. Envoy in Damascus to Seek Quick Aleppo Truce

U.N. peace envoy Staffan de Mistura hopes to finalise a deal to freeze fighting in war-ravaged second city Aleppo during talks Saturday with the Syrian government, an official said.

De Mistura is due in Damascus in the afternoon and "hopes to set in motion as soon as possible his project" to halt fighting in Aleppo for six weeks, said a member of his delegation who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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Dozens Dead as Qaida in Syria Takes Rebel Base

Al-Qaida's Syria affiliate on Saturday drove U.S.-backed rebels out of a strategic northern military base in fierce fighting that left dozens dead, a monitor said.

At least 29 fighters from the Western-armed Hazm movement were killed along with six Al-Nusra Front jihadists, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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Drone Raid Kills Three Qaida Militants in Yemen

A drone strike Saturday killed three al-Qaida militants in Yemen, a tribal source said, in a region where the United States is the only country operating the unmanned aircraft.

The raid "targeted a vehicle in which three members of al-Qaida were riding in the village of Bijan, in Shabwa province," the source said.

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Kuwait Reopens Yemen Embassy in Aden, instead of Sanaa

Kuwait has joined its Gulf partners Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates and decided to reopen its Yemeni embassy in Aden, instead of the militia-controlled capital Sanaa.

"In the framework of supporting constitutional legitimacy in Yemen represented in President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi... the state of Kuwait has decided to reopen its embassy in the city of Aden," the foreign ministry said, quoted by the official KUNA news agency.

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Australia May Join New Zealand's Iraq Training Mission

Australia is considering joining New Zealand in a training mission in Iraq to help counter the Islamic State (IS) militant group, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Saturday.

New Zealand announced Tuesday it will send troops to Iraq on a "behind-the-wire" non-combat mission to boost the local military's ability to fight the jihadists.

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Assad or No Assad, West Asks, as IS Rises and Conflict Rages

Faced with a seemingly unending bloody conflict in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State group, is President Bashar Assad the lesser of the country's evils and should the West re-engage with him?

While world powers such as the United States, France and Britain refuse to have anything to do with a leader the French prime minister described as a "butcher", the question is increasingly being raised within these countries.

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U.S. Denies Pushing Iraq on Mosul Offensive

The U.S. military insisted Friday it was not pressurizing Iraq to launch an offensive to recapture Mosul from Islamic State extremists in the next few months, saying the timing was up to Baghdad.

Previous comments by senior U.S. officials suggesting the Iraqi army would stage a counter-attack against the IS group in the northern city as soon as April or May have provoked an angry response in Baghdad.

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U.S.: Training of Syrian Rebels in Turkey in 4-6 Weeks

The U.S. military said Friday the training of moderate Syrian rebels will likely begin within four to six weeks in Turkey after the two NATO allies clinched an agreement last week.

Potential recruits still needed to be vetted for the training sessions, which will take place in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as Turkey, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news conference.

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Palestinians Tear-Gassed on 10th Anniversary of Barrier Protests

Palestinian, Israeli and foreign activists faced off against Israeli forces Friday in the occupied West Bank village of Bilin where they marked 10 years of protests against Israel's separation barrier.

In what has become a weekly ritual, the activists marched towards the barrier which cuts villagers off from their fields.

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Syria to Expel Three U.N. Aid Workers

Syria has decided to expel three U.N. aid workers, in a new setback for international agencies struggling to bring desperately-needed relief to civilians in the war-torn country.

Two of the workers are from the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the third is an employee of the U.N. children's agency UNICEF, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Friday.

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