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Security Council Members Rattle Sabers Over Syria

Supporters and opponents of U.N. action against Syria crossed swords at the Security Council Friday after it was revealed the regime's crackdown has cost more than 3,000 lives, diplomats said.

Envoys for Germany, France, Britain and Portugal raised President Bashar Assad's deadly assault on protesters during closed-door consultations.

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U.S. Seeks Support for Action Against Iran Central Bank

The United States is seeking international support for fresh sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran, a Treasury official said Friday following an alleged plot to kill the Saudi envoy in Washington.

"We are engaging in an effort to develop the multilateral support that would be critically important in having an action against the CBI really be effective," sanctions czar David Cohen told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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Tunisia Police Teargas Protest at 'Blasphemous', TV Station

Police fired tear gas Friday at hundreds of people demonstrating against a private television station accused of blasphemy for airing a film with an image of God.

The demonstrators, mainly conservative Muslim Salafists, protested against Nessma television for the second time in a week after it broadcast "Persepolis", a globally-acclaimed animated film on Iran's 1979 revolution.

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Yemen Protesters Urge U.N. to Put Saleh on Trial

Demonstrators on Friday called for the United Nations to intervene to put Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on trial in the wake of a crackdown on anti-regime protests that has cost hundreds of lives.

"We want the world to pass a resolution which defends the blood of the revolutionaries," protesters chanted at a huge gathering near "Change Square" in central Sanaa that has become the epicenter of a campaign to oust Saleh.

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Israel to Build New East Jerusalem District

Israel has formally submitted plans for a new settlement neighborhood in annexed east Jerusalem in what will be the first sector's first new district in 14 years, Peace Now said on Friday.

The new district, Givat HaMatos, will be located on the southern flank of east Jerusalem which lies close to the West Bank town of Bethlehem, in what the settlement watchdog described as the first neighborhood to be planned since the establishment of Har Homa in 1997.

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Syria Forces Kill 10 Protesters during Friday Demonstrations

Syrian security forces killed 10 people on Friday when they opened fire on protesters in several cities, Rami Abdul Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP by telephone.

"Ten demonstrators were killed today," said Rahman.

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NTC Forces Regroup after Sirte Reverse

New regime forces in Libya were regrouping on Friday for a new bid to take full control of Moammar Gadhafi's hometown Sirte after a reverse at the hands of the fugitive strongman's remaining loyalists.

National Transitional Council (NTC) troops remained in the central police headquarters to which they retreated two kilometers on Thursday under heavy fire from Gadhafi forces, an Agence France Presse correspondent reported.

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Israel Says Shalit to Return Home on Tuesday

Captured soldier Gilad Shalit is to return to Israel on Tuesday at the same time as 450 Palestinian prisoners are freed if the terms of a swap deal are respected, a senior Israeli official said on Friday.

"We hope that the timetable laid out in the agreement will be respected and that Gilad Shalit will return home on Tuesday," said the official from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office told Agence France Presse, saying a first tranche of prisoners would be released at the same time.

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Gulf States Call for Emergency Arab Meeting on Syria

The oil-rich Gulf States have called for an emergency Arab foreign ministers' meeting on the mounting bloodshed in Syria as Damascus shows no let-up in its deadly crackdown on protests.

In a statement received by Agence France Presse late Thursday, the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council said the meeting should address "the situation in Syria, which has deteriorated sharply, particularly in its humanitarian dimensions, and steps that could help end the bloodshed and halt the machine of violence."

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Omanis to Vote for Consultative Council

Omanis vote Saturday to elect the powerless Majlis al-Shura consultative council, which Sultan Qaboos pledged to vest with some authorities in response to unprecedented social unrest.

Some 518,000 eligible voters out of about two million Omanis have been called to take part in the polls in which 1,133 candidates, including 77 women, are competing for four-year terms in the 84-seat council.

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