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Zarif Says Iran Can Work with Saudis on Syria, IS

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Friday that he believes his country could work with regional rival Saudi Arabia on the Syrian conflict and common threats such as the Islamic State group. 

"We believe there is nothing in our region that would exclude Iran and Saudi working together for a better future for all of us," Zarif told an audience at the Munich Security Conference. 

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Thousands of Egypt Doctors Stage Anti-Police Protest

Thousands of Egyptian doctors staged a protest Friday outside their union headquarters in Cairo over a lack of legal action against policemen who allegedly beat up two of their colleagues.

Nine policemen are alleged to have assaulted the doctors in a state hospital in Cairo's northern district of Matareya on January 28 after they refused to forge a medical report.

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Lavrov Says U.S., Russia Must 'Cooperate on Ground' in Syria

Russian and U.S. armed forces must "cooperate on the ground" in Syria to facilitate a truce and humanitarian access agreed by world powers, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

"For this to work... cooperation between the militaries on the ground is needed, both on humanitarian issues and issues related to implementing the ceasefire," state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Lavrov as saying.

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U.N. Expects Aid Deliveries to Besieged Syrians 'without Delay'

The U.N. said Friday it expected to be able to deliver aid to besieged Syrians "without delay" after world powers agreed a plan to cease hostilities in the war-wracked country. 

Amid doubts over the prospect of the ceasefire agreed in Munich, representatives of 17 countries met in Geneva to discuss plans for mass aid distribution that would coincide with a pause in fighting. 

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Arab Israelis Demand Release of Palestinian Hunger Striker

Arab Israelis demonstrated on Friday in support of a Palestinian journalist who has been on hunger strike for 80 days, demanding an end to his detention without trial by Israel.

An AFP journalist in the northern Israeli town of Afula said that firebrand Islamic cleric Raed Salah delivered a sermon to hundreds of worshipers at the end of Friday prayers held outside the hospital where Mohammed al-Qiq is being held under guard.

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Red Cross Rejects Saudi Call to Leave Yemen Conflict Zones

The Red Cross on Friday turned down a call from Riyadh for aid workers to stay out of rebel-held zones of Yemen that are being targeted in a Saudi-led air war.

The mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross "often necessitates crossing frontlines" and securing access to combat zones, the ICRC's Sanaa spokeswoman Rima Kamal told AFP.

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Iraq PM Vows to Defeat Islamic State Group by End of 2016

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed on Friday to drive the Islamic State group out of his country by the end of the year.

"We intend this year to make it the final year for the existence of Daesh in Iraq," he told an audience at the Munich Security Conference, using the Arabic acronym for IS, also called ISIS and ISIL.

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Yemen Loyalists Advance towards Rebel-Held Capital

Yemeni pro-government forces have advanced to within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of Sanaa in a push towards the rebel-held capital from the northeast, loyalist military sources said on Friday.

Loyalist forces took the town of Nihm after overrunning the headquarters of the renegade pro-rebel 312th Brigade of the army earlier this week, the sources said.

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Hundreds of Iraqi Soldiers Deploy in Base near Mosul

Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers have arrived at a northern base over the past 24 hours to prepare for operations to retake the city of Mosul from jihadists, officers said Friday.

AFP correspondents at the base in Makhmur, around 70 kilometers (45 miles) southeast of Mosul, saw 700 soldiers from the 15th division arrive late Thursday.

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Assad Sees Risk of Saudi, Turkish Op, Says Aleppo Battle Aims to Cut Route to Turkey

Syria's President Bashar Assad has vowed to retake the entire country but warned it could take a "long time," in an interview with AFP as international pressure grows for a ceasefire.

Speaking at his office in Damascus, hours before a new ceasefire plan was announced early Friday by world powers in Munich, Assad said he backed peace talks but that negotiations do "not mean that we stop fighting terrorism."

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