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Palestinians Rally for Prisoners as Peace Talks Falter

Thousands of Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza rallied Thursday in solidarity with Israeli-held prisoners, as peace talks near collapse after the Jewish state refused to free long-serving inmates.

To mark Prisoners Day, Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has his headquarters, after hundreds took part in early rallies in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip late Wednesday.

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Algeria's Bouteflika Votes in Wheelchair in 4th Term Bid

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, seeking a fourth presidential term, cast his ballot from a wheelchair Thursday as Algerians voted in an election he is widely expected to win despite chronic health problems.

In his first public appearance in two years, a smiling Bouteflika arrived at a polling station in El Biar district of Algiers and waved but made no comment to reporters covering an election tainted by fraud warnings and boycott calls.

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Displaced Syrian Christians Dream of Return to Maalula

In the Bab Tuma district of Syria's capital Damascus, Fadi Mayal dreams of returning home to the ancient Christian town of Maalula which was retaken by government forces this week.

But he and many other residents chased out when rebel forces including jihadists entered the town in September fear it may still be too early to go back.

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Libyan Qaida Suspect Deprived Rights in U.S. Jail

The Libyan al-Qaida suspect captured last year outside his home in Tripoli is being deprived legal documents and personal effects in a U.S. prison hospital, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Anas al-Libi, 50, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges over the 1998 al-Qaida bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed 244 people and wounded more than 5,000 others.

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Watchdog: Syria Most Dangerous Country for Journalists

Syria is the world's most dangerous country for journalists a U.S.-based watchdog said Wednesday as it published its annual impunity index tracking unsolved killings of reporters.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists reported a "rising number of targeted killings" of reporters in Syria as a recent threat to journalists operating in the war-torn country.

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Media Watchdog Slams Algeria Visa Delays to Cover Polls

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has criticized Algerian authorities over delays in issuing visas for foreign journalists to cover the country's presidential election on Thursday.

Many journalists were "issued visas late in the day accompanied by drastic restrictions", the Paris-based group said in a statement issued on the eve of polling.

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Study: Syria Foreign Fighters Look to Western Preachers

Foreign fighters in Syria are looking to Western-based spiritual authorities acting as "cheerleaders" on social media, a British-based research body said Wednesday.

A study of the social media activity of foreign jihadists showed many were following certain influential preachers -- one from the United States and another from Australia, said the International Center for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) at King's College London university.

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Jordan Condemns Israel 'Escalation' in Al-Aqsa

Jordan on Wednesday urged the U.N. Security Council to end Israeli "escalation" at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound after it was opened to Jewish visitors.

"Legal, humanitarian and ethical duties of the U.N. Security Council and the international community require that they stop Israeli escalation and violations committed by Jewish radicals at Al-Aqsa," Information Minister Mohammad Momani told the state-run Petra news agency.

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Al-Nusra Chief Killed by Rivals in Syria

Jihadist militants of the Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant have killed the head of the Al-Nusra Front and his family in northern Syria, a monitoring group said Wednesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a four-man ISIL unit killed Abu Mohammed al-Ansari, his wife, daughter, brother and niece in a house in Ras al-Hosn late on Tuesday.

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Egypt Court Jails 120 Morsi Backers over Clashes

An Egyptian court jailed 120 supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi for three years on Wednesday over clashes that left dozens of people dead last year, officials said.

The trial is part of a relentless crackdown that has targeted Morsi's supporters since the army ousted him in July.

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