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Britain, France Press NATO Allies on Libya Strikes

Britain and France called on NATO allies Tuesday to pull their weight in the bombing mission in Libya in a sign of growing disquiet over the campaign as the conflict drags on.

NATO has led air strikes against Moammar Gadhafi's forces for almost two weeks since taking control of the operation from a U.S.-led coalition that had been bombing the regime's heavy weaponry since March 19.

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Britain Warns Against Travel to Syria

Britain warned Tuesday against all but essential travel to Syria after a bloody weekend crackdown on anti-regime demonstrators.

"In light of the deteriorating security situation in Syria we have decided to change the overall level of our travel advice: we now advise against all but essential travel to Syria," Foreign Office Minister for Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt said.

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Ex-Head of Mubarak's Party Detained for Corruption

The head of Egypt's former ruling party, Safwat al-Sherif, a longtime stalwart of the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, has been detained on charges of corruption, state TV said on Tuesday.

Sherif was detained late on Monday for 15 days "on charges of misusing public funds", TV said, as footage showed Sherif -- his face covered by a jacket -- being escorted into a police vehicle.

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Talk of Gadhafi Stepping Down 'Ridiculous', Says His Son

Libyan leader Moammer Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam admitted Monday that it was time for "new blood" in his country's leadership but said talk of his father stepping down was "ridiculous".

"The Libyan Guide does not want to control everything. He is at an advanced age. We would like to bring a new elite of young people onto the scene to lead the country and direct local affairs," Seif told French network BFM.

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Libya Rebels Reject Truce Plan, Say Gadhafi Must Go

Libyan rebels on Monday rejected an African Union initiative for a ceasefire accepted by Moammar Gadhafi, and said the only acceptable solution was the ouster of the veteran strongman.

The rebel rejection came after NATO chiefs warned that any deal must be "credible and verifiable," and as alliance warplanes were again in operation against Gadhafi armor pounding the cities of Ajdabiya and Misrata.

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Egypt Blogger Gets 3 Years for Criticizing Military

A military court has jailed a blogger for three years for criticizing the armed forces that have ruled Egypt since president Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February, in a decision slammed by rights groups on Monday.

"Regrettably, the Nasr City military court sentenced Maikel Nabil to three years in prison," the blogger's lawyer Gamal Eid told Agence France Presse.

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Paris, Berlin Condemn Syria Violence as Security Forces Disperse Students at Damascus University

Syrian students rallied in front of Damascus University on Monday in solidarity with protesters killed in the flashpoint towns of Daraa and Banias.

“Youngman Fadi al-Assmi was martyred at the hands of Syrian security forces during protests at Damascus University’s Faculty of Science,” Prominent Syrian human rights activist Suheir al-Atasi wrote on her facebook page.

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Yemeni President Ready for Power-Transfer

Embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Monday welcomed Gulf "efforts" to end his country's political crisis, saying he was ready for a "peaceful" transfer of power in a constitutional way, according to a statement from his office.

"In compliance with statements (he) made several times ... the president has no reservation against transferring power peacefully and smoothly within the framework of the constitution," said the statement.

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Syrian Army Mobilizes in Banias

Syrian troops encircled the flashpoint coastal town of Banias Monday, where weekend shootings left 13 dead and scores wounded, a human rights activist said.

"Seventeen tanks were deployed" to Banias, the activist told Agence France Presse, adding that the army had surrounded the northwestern city and electricity had been cut off.

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Libyan Rebels Reject to Ceasefire without Gadhafi Pullback

Libyan rebels said Monday that any ceasefire would require the withdrawal of government troops from the streets and freedom of expression, as African mediators were due in their stronghold.

"The people must be allowed to go into the streets to express their opinion and the soldiers must return to their barracks," Shamsiddin Abdulmolah, a spokesman for the rebels' Transitional National Council, told Agence France Presse.

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