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Saudi Court Upholds 10-Year Term for Rights Activist

A Saudi court on Monday upheld a 10-year jail sentence and 1,000 lashes against Raef Badawi, founder of a liberal human rights group, for insulting Islam, an activist said.

He had been convicted of "creating a website insulting Islam" and criticizing the role of the notorious religious police "which we all do" in Saudi Arabia, the rights group's co-founder, Suad al-Shamari, told Agence France-Presse.

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Exodus from Hasakeh as Syria Hunts IS Jihadists

Raids by Syrian forces hunting suspected Islamic State infiltrators in the northeast town of Hasakeh have sparked an exodus of more than 60,000 civilians in three days, a monitor said Monday.

Hasakeh is split between zones controlled by President Bashar Assad's forces, Kurdish groups and militants from the radical IS group, which is sowing terror in both Syria and neighboring Iraq.

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U.S. Jets Strike Jihadists around Iraqi Dam

The United States carried out another round of air strikes Monday against militants from the so-called Islamic States battling Iraqi and Kurdish forces near a major dam in northern Iraq.

The Mosul Dam, just north of the city of the same name, has become a focus of fighting between jihadists and Kurdish forces since the United States launched an air campaign last month.

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U.S. Urges Israel to Reverse Plan to Seize West Bank Land

The United States urged Israel on Monday to reverse its latest plan to seize Palestinian land in the Bethlehem area of the occupied West Bank.

"This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes, planning step they approve, and construction tender they issue, is counterproductive to Israel's stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians," a State Department official said. 

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U.N. Human Rights Council to Send Mission to Iraq to Probe IS Crimes

The U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday unanimously agreed to send an emergency mission to Iraq to investigate Islamic State atrocities, as Baghdad warned the country was "facing a terrorist monster."

The 47 members of the United Nations' top rights body accepted without a vote a resolution urging the probe presented by Iraq and supported by more than 100 states.

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Qaida Kills 3 Yemen 'Spies' for Allegedly Aiding U.S. Drones

Al-Qaida militants have executed three men they accuse of planting electronic chips in the network's vehicles to help U.S. drones target them, a security official said Monday. 

Scores of al-Qaida suspects, including some of the network's leaders, have been killed in drone strikes in Yemen. 

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Reports: 30 Libyans Arrested in UAE

Pro-Islamist Libyan media on Monday reported that some 30 Libyans were arrested in the United Arab Emirates following air raids which U.S. officials said were carried out last month by the UAE against Islamist targets in Libya.

Media, including television channel An-Nabaa, said among those arrested were businessmen with long-standing ties to the UAE, including some from Misrata.

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Macedonia Detains 100 Syrian, Iraqi Immigrants

Macedonian police said Monday they have detained more than 100 Syrian and Iraqi immigrants, among them women and children, hiding in a train transporting coal from the Greek port of Thessaloniki.

"The immigrants are mainly from Syria and Iraq and they came to Greece from Turkey," Ivo Kotevski, spokesman for the Interior Ministry told AFP.

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Egypt Slams Israel Plan to Seize Palestinian Land

Egypt on Monday denounced Israeli plans to expropriate West Bank land, saying the move violates international law and is an obstacle to efforts for a lasting Palestinian-Israeli settlement.

On Sunday, Israel said it would expropriate 400 hectares (988 acres) of Palestinian land around Bethlehem, and allowed 45 days for any appeal.

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Merkel Says Arms Aid for Iraqi Kurds in Europe's Interest

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday defended a watershed decision to send arms to Iraqi Kurds battling jihadist militants, saying Europe's own security was at stake.

Merkel told parliament that Germany's decision to break with its post-war tradition of refusing to send weapons into conflict zones was crucial in strife-torn Iraq, the scene of "inconceivable atrocities" against civilians.

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