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Putin Calls for 'Restraint and Caution' over Syria

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Friday called for restraint over the Syria crisis, after talks with his French counterpart who accused President Bashar Assad of being deaf to pressure.

"We are calling for restraint and caution. This is our position," Putin told a news conference, the day after his foreign minister had likened the situation in Syria to a civil war.

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Crew Eject as Italian Military Plane Crashes Off Dubai

An Italian military training aircraft heading home from the Dubai air show crashed into the sea on Friday off the Gulf emirate, but both crew ejected safely, officials said.

"The plane crashed off Dubai shortly after taking off en route for Italy after taking part in the air show," an aviation source told Agence France Presse without speculating on the cause of the accident.

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Iraq Bombs Kill Eight in Worst Violence in Weeks

Bombings against a policeman's home and three mosques killed eight people and wounded 13 on Friday, security officials said, in the worst violence to hit Iraq in weeks.

A bomb targeting the home of a policeman in the Saqlawiya district outside the one-time insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, about 60 kilometers west of Baghdad, killed four people early on Friday, police Captain Omar Abbud said.

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Turkey Warns of Civil War in Syria

Turkey warned Friday that the conflict in Syria risks turning into a civil war, while France's chief diplomat said it was now too late for the Syrian regime to finally implement reforms.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu pointed to the new attacks by army defectors, "therefore I say there is a risk of transforming into civil war. It is now the right time to stop this massacre, and therefore the Arab initiative is important," he said.

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Rival Demos as Talks Begin on Closing Iran Exile Camp in Iraq

U.N.-brokered talks are underway on relocating several thousand exiled Iranian opposition members from a camp north of Baghdad to another location in Iraq, officials said on Friday.

Iraqi authorities have decided to close Camp Ashraf, which has hosted members of the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI) since the 1980s, by the end of 2011.

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Rise in Jewish Settlers Joining Army Combat Units

Six out of 10 Jewish settlers were drafted into combat units for their compulsory military service, an Israeli army study showed on Friday, indicating a sharp rise in numbers.

According to a study on draft trends which was published by the military's personnel division, Jewish settlers are more likely than regular Israelis to try to join combat units.

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Tens of Thousands Stage Anti-Military Rally in Cairo

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday for a mass rally aimed at pushing Egypt's military rulers to cede power 10 months after an uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak.

As general elections draw near -- the first polls since Mubarak was ousted in February -- protesters are demanding more control over the constitution the new parliament is set to draft and a shift to civilian rule.

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France Says Time has Come to Increase Sanctions against Syria

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Friday that the "time has come to increase sanctions" against the Syrian regime.

"The situation is no longer sustainable," and "the ongoing repression is unacceptable," Juppe told reporters during a visit to Ankara.

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Analysis: Risk of Civil War Looms in Syria

The risk of civil war looms large over Syria as army defectors increasingly take aim at regime forces and diplomacy fails to resolve the escalating crisis, experts say.

"We are moving down that track and the longer the international community and the Arab League delay (action), the sooner we will be there," said Salman Shaikh, head of the Brookings Doha Center.

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Syria Forces Kill 20, Including 4 Children, in Friday Protests

Syrian security forces on Friday shot dead 20 civilians, including four children, in the regions of Hama, Daraa, Homs and Reef Damascus, the Local Coordination Committees said, on the eve of an Arab League deadline for Syria to stop its lethal crackdown on protesters and as Turkey warned of the risk of civil war.

The latest bloodletting came as thousands of protesters took to the streets in defiance of massive security deployments to urge nations to expel Syrian ambassadors, activists said.

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