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Gadhafi Loyalists Hit Back in Sirte

Libya's new regime fighters retreated under heavy fire from loyalists of Moammar Gadhafi in his hometown of Sirte on Thursday as their leaders backtracked on an announcement they had captured one of his sons.

The advancing fighters, who had been hoping to mop up the last pockets of resistance in two residential neighborhoods in the northwest of the city, withdrew at least two kilometers to the central police headquarters they had captured on Tuesday, an Agence France Presse correspondent reported.

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Iran Urges Saudi to Avoid U.S. 'Trap'

Iran on Thursday urged Saudi Arabia "not to fall into the trap" of believing U.S. claims that Tehran was behind an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, saying the accusations only served the United States and Israel.

"I am asking Saudi Arabia not to fall into the trap, because any disturbance in relations between countries in the (Middle East) region will only benefit the United States and the Zionist regime," said Ali Ahani,Iran's deputy foreign minister in charge of Europe and America affairs, according to the IRNA news agency.

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U.S. Embassy in Damascus Hits Back on Facebook

The U.S. embassy in Damascus has hit back at apparent glee in the Syrian state media over the Occupy Wall Street movement sweeping the United States, posting a Facebook lesson on democracy.

On its official Facebook page, the embassy took a thinly veiled jibe at the regime of Bashar Assad, saying that, while there is dissatisfaction in America over the economy, that did not translate into police shooting "thousands of protesters" or demonstrators being tortured.

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U.S. Envoy to Meet Abbas in Paris

The United States' special envoy for Middle East peace, David Hale, will meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas during his visit to Paris, the U.S. embassy here said Thursday.

"Hale is going to meet with Abbas," embassy spokesman Paul Patin told Agence France Presse. He could not say when the meeting would take place or provide other details.

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Egypt Says Planes Patrolling Sinai without Israel Okay

Egyptian warplanes are patrolling the Sinai without Israeli consent, despite a 1979 peace treaty limiting Egypt's military presence in the peninsula, Egypt's air force chief said on Thursday.

Parts of the Sinai have been off-limits to Egyptian troops under the terms of the 1979 treaty by which Israel agreed to end its occupation but in recent months the army has deployed reinforcements with Israeli consent to tackle suspected Islamist militants.

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Shalit Expected to Return to Israel on Wednesday via Egypt

Captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is expected to return to Israel via Egypt by next Wednesday, Palestinian sources and Israeli media said on Thursday

A senior Palestinian official said a first group of 450 Palestinian prisoners would be released next Tuesday, followed by Shalit's release on Wednesday.

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Gadhafi Loyalists Fight on as Capture of Son in Doubt

Loyalists of Moammar Gadhafi doggedly resisted attacks in two areas of the fugitive strongman's hometown Sirte on Thursday as doubts emerged about reports of the capture of his feared son Mutassim.

An announcement by the new leadership in Tripoli that Mutassim was in custody, sparked late-night celebrations in towns and cities across Libya but a senior military commander inside Sirte said that the son remained on the run.

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Syrian 'Agent' Charged with Spying on Protesters in U.S., Embassy Denies

A Syrian-born U.S. citizen has been charged with spying on anti-Assad protesters and providing recordings to the regime's intelligence agents in a bid to silence the opposition, U.S. officials said Wednesday, but the Syrian embassy in Washington denied such allegations.

A federal grand jury charged Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid, 47, on October 5 in a six-count indictment for his efforts against activists in the United States and Syria opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. He was arrested Tuesday.

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GCC: Saudi Envoy 'Plot' Harms Relations with Iran

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) condemned on Wednesday the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi envoy to Washington, saying it harms Gulf-Iranian relations, Saudi state news agency SPA said.

Riyadh strongly condemned the "sinful and abhorrent" attempt to assassinate its Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, applauding U.S. efforts to foil the attempt.

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Iran's Revolutionary Guards Deny Involved in U.S. 'Plot'

A top commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday denied any involvement of the force in the plot alleged by the United States to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

"America's claims about the involvement of some members of the Guards in the fabricated terror plot (targeting) a diplomat from an Arab country in Washington are ridiculous and baseless," Guards deputy commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami was quoted as saying on the state television website.

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