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Deadly Clashes at Iran Opposition Camp in Iraq

At least three people were killed Friday when Iraqi forces clashed with an Iranian opposition group, a security official said, but the rebels claimed 25 of its members died in a full military assault.

Major Hassan al-Tamimi of the Iraqi army in Baquba, capital of central Diyala province, said the armed forces clashed with stone-hurling crowds at the Camp Ashraf base of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, or PMOI.

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New Israeli Air Strike Kills Three Civilians in Gaza

Three Palestinian civilians were killed and four more people hurt on Friday in an air raid on south Gaza, medical sources said, in the second deadly strike of the morning.

The latest raid hit a target in Qarara, northeast of Khan Yunis, emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya told Agence France Presse, identifying the victims as Talal Taha, 55, a woman called Najah Qudeih, 45, and her 21-year-old daughter Nidal.

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Key Mubarak Aide Held for Alleged Corruption

Zakariah Azmi, the chief of staff of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, was detained on Thursday for 15 days on suspicion of illegally acquiring his wealth, state television reported.

Azmi, one of the former president's closest aides, is under investigation by an anti-corruption panel that has also summoned Mubarak's younger son Gamal for questioning. Gamal is expected to appear before the panel next week.

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Israeli System Intercepts Gaza Rocket for First Time

Israel's Iron Dome short-range missile defense system shot down a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the first time such an interceptor has been deployed anywhere.

The military confirmed the rocket had been brought down over the southern city of Ashkelon by the unique multi-million-dollar system, which came into operation on March 27, the first time that Iron Dome had hit a rocket in actual combat.

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Saudi to Hold Municipal Polls in September

Municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, the only form of public vote in the conservative kingdom, are to be held on September 22, the electoral commission said on its website.

Local dailies had mistakenly reported last month that the elections would start on April 23. But a timetable posted on the website Intekhab clarified that the registration of eligible voters, not voting, would start on that date.

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Assad Decrees that Kurds be Naturalized

President Bashar Assad on Thursday granted citizenship to Syria's Kurds, the majority in the northeast who have been denied nationality for nearly half a century, said SANA state news agency.

"President Assad issued a decree granting Arab Syrian citizenship to people registered as foreigners in the (governorate of Hassake)," said the news agency.

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Israeli Army Arrests 100 Women in West Bank

Israeli troops stormed Awarta village in the northern West Bank on Thursday, arresting more than 100 women as they hunted the killers of an Israeli family, officials said.

The military also used bulldozers to destroy Palestinian houses in a northern farming village east of Tubas, in an area under Israeli control, according to Palestinian security officials.

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Libya Contact Group to Meet April 13 in Doha

The international contact group on Libya will meet on April 13 in the Qatari capital Doha, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Thursday.

France is trying "to convince the African Union to be present in Qatar next week because that's where the contact group is to meet on April 13," Juppe told lawmakers.

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Qatar Says Gulf States Expect Yemen's Saleh to Quit

Gulf States leading mediation efforts to end a political crisis in Yemen hope to reach a deal by which embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh would quit, Qatar's prime minister said on Thursday.

Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council "hope to reach a deal with the Yemeni president to step down," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said according to QNA state news agency.

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Gates in Iraq to Meet Officials as U.S. Forces Near Pullout

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was set to meet Iraqi leaders Thursday after talks in Saudi Arabia where he sharply criticized Iran for exploiting unrest in the Gulf region and elsewhere.

Gates, who arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit Wednesday, will hold talks with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani, according to officials traveling with him, and visit American troops who ended combat operations in August ahead of a scheduled withdrawal by the end of this year.

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