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Iraqi Bishop Laments 'Too Late' Response to IS Threat

A Roman Catholic bishop based in Iraq on Tuesday said international mobilization against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq had come "too late".

Operations against IS in Iraq "came very late, too late," said Baghdad Auxiliary Bishop Schlemon Warduni.

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Assad Urges End to Funding of Armed Groups in Syria, Iraq

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said Tuesday that any campaign against "terrorism" must start with pressure on countries that support armed groups in Syria and Iraq.

"The battle against terrorism starts with pressure on the countries that support and finance terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq and pretend that they want to fight against terrorism," state news agency SANA quoted Assad as saying.

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West Bank Jewish Settler Population Soars

Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank numbered 382,031 at the end of June, up from 374,469 six months earlier, the leading settler organization said on Tuesday.

The number does not include annexed east Jerusalem, which Israel has declared to be an integral part of the Jewish state and an inseparable component of its capital. Around 200,000 Israelis live in the eastern Arab sector of the city.

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Traffickers 'Laughed' as they Capsized Boat to Drown 500 Refugees

Survivors of the most deadly migrant shipwreck in years have described the horrifying moment traffickers capsized their boat and left them to drown, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday.

"After they hit our boat they waited to make sure that it had sunk completely before leaving. They were laughing," one survivor told IOM.

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Iraq Parliament Rejects PM's Security Nominees

The Iraqi parliament voted down Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi's nominees for defense and interior minister Tuesday, leaving the key positions unfilled as the country battles to regain ground from militants.

Parliament approved Abadi's partial cabinet on August 8, ushering in his term as premier, but he asked for a week to present nominees for several ministries, including the security posts.

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Bahrain Sets October 1 Trial Date for Key Activist

Prominent Bahraini rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja, daughter of a jailed Shiite opposition figure, is to stand trial from October 1 charged with assaulting a police officer, her lawyer said Tuesday.

Mohammed al-Jishi told AFP the prosecutor general had also decided to extend her custody pending the trial. A conviction could carry a five-year prison sentence, he said.

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U.N. Brokers Gaza Reconstruction Deal

The United Nations has brokered an Israeli-Palestinian deal on imports of construction materials to Gaza to ensure they will not be diverted by Hamas militants, an envoy said Tuesday.

The agreement on monitoring the supply of materials "must get up and running without delay," said Robert Serry, the U.N. envoy for the Middle East.

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U.S. Says 'Combat Advisers' May Battle IS in Iraq, Strikes to Target 'Safe Havens' in Syria

The United States plans to strike the Islamic State group in its Syrian strongholds and could send military advisers into combat alongside Iraqi troops, American commanders said Tuesday.

Military leaders warned of a further escalation in their battle against the jihadists just as two branches of the rival Al-Qaeda group called for a united front against the war coalition Washington is building.

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Saudi Beheads Syrian Drug Trafficker

A Syrian convicted of drug trafficking was beheaded in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the interior ministry said.

Mohammed Ismail al-Jammus had been charged with smuggling a large quantity of amphetamines into the country, a ministry statement reported by state news agency SPA said.

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Syrian Opposition Halts Vaccinations after Death Reports

The Syrian opposition said Tuesday it halted a measles vaccination campaign in northeastern Idlib province following reports that children had died after being inoculated.

The announcement came in a statement posted on the websites of the Syrian opposition National Coalition and the rebel interim government.

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