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Syria Activists to Hold 'National Salvation Conference' in Damascus, Istanbul

Syrian opposition activists have called for a simultaneous "Conference of National Salvation" to be held on Saturday in Damascus and Istanbul to look at ways to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

A statement said the conference will be held simultaneously in both cities "to draw up a road map that will bring the country out of despotism towards democracy and define the mechanism to overthrow the regime (as) sought by the (people of the) Syrian street."

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At Least 28 Shot Dead as More Than 1 Million Flood Syria Streets

More than one million protesters flooded Syrian streets on Friday seeking an end to President Bashar al-Assad's regime as security forces opened fire and killed at least 28, among them 23 in Damascus and its suburbs, and wounded nearly 100, an activist said.

Rights activist Abdul Karim Rihawi said the deaths included two in al-Qadam and four in Douma, both suburbs of the capital, in addition to three in the northwestern city of Idlib and two more in the southern town of Daraa.

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Saddam Half-Brothers to be Executed within a Month

Five Saddam-era officials, including two of the late dictator's half-brothers, will be executed within a month after being handed over to Iraqi authorities by the US military, an official said on Friday.

The group, transferred to Iraqi custody on Thursday morning, were among 206 high-value detainees still being held by American forces ahead of a U.S. military pullout due by the end of the year.

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Israeli Planes Strike Gaza after Rocket Fire

Israeli jets struck the Gaza Strip late on Thursday for the third time in as many days, moderately wounding four Palestinians, security and medical officials said.

Security officials and eyewitnesses said that the Israeli aircraft hit three targets; two in the Gaza City area and a third in Khan Younis, further south.

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U.N. Briefed on Syria's Alleged Nuclear Activities

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported to U.N. Security Council members on Syria's suspected nuclear activities Thursday during a closed-door meeting.

"Council members were briefed by the IAEA, who provided the technical details that led to its conclusion of the violation by Syria of its nuclear non-proliferation obligations," said a French source.

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U.S. Sour on Arab U.N. Bid for Palestinian Statehood

The United States said Thursday that it disagreed with the Arab League after it said it would submit a request for recognition of a Palestinian state to the United Nations.

"We do not believe attempts to resolve final status issues in international bodies like the United Nations are able to bring about the enduring peace, which both the parties and the United States seek," the State Department said in a written statement.

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Venezuela's Chavez Urges Libyan Leader to Resist

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday sent a message of support to embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, urging him to resist and calling on European nations to worry about their own domestic issues.

"There is Gadhafi resisting. Until when will this outrage last?" Chavez said at a meeting of his ministers. Part of the event was broadcast on the state television network VTV.

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Arab League to Request U.N. Recognition of Palestinian State

The Arab League will submit to the United Nations a request for recognition of a Palestinian state, Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi said on Thursday in Doha.

The Arab peace initiative committee "has decided to submit a call to the member states of the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state," Arabi told a news conference after a meeting of the committee in the Qatari capital.

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Russia: Gadhafi has 'Suicide Plan' to Blow Up Capital

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has a "suicidal plan" to blow up the capital Tripoli if it is taken by rebels, the Kremlin's special envoy to Libya told a Russian newspaper Thursday.

"The Libyan premier told me: if the rebels seize the city, we will cover it with missiles and blow it up," Kremlin envoy Mikhail Margelov said in an interview with the the Izvestia daily.

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Libya Rebels Break Through after Retaking Gualish

Libyan rebels repulsed loyalists who had retaken the desert hamlet of Gualish on Wednesday and chased them to the outskirts of Asabah, shelling the town from nearby hills, an Agence France Presse correspondent said.

The rebel breakthrough came as an insurgent commander downplayed talk of a political solution, saying strongman Moammar Gadhafi refuses to go.

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