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EU to Look at New Syria Sanctions This Week

The EU is to look at fresh sanctions this week against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime after already honing in on his inner circle, EU diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton said Wednesday.

Asked by members of the European Parliament to explain why Assad's name was not on a list of 13 Syrian officials hit by European Union sanctions, Ashton said "we started with 13 people who were directly involved" in cracking down on protests.

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21 Dead in Homs, Daraa as Syria Withdraws U.N. Rights Council Bid

Syrian security forces and unidentified gunmen killed at least 19 civilians on Wednesday, as authorities pressed a deadly crackdown on protest hubs across the country, human rights activists said.

Among the dead was an eight-year-old boy, the head of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, Ammar Qurabi, told Agence France Presse.

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Yemeni Qaida Chief Warns Jihad Will ‘Intensify’

The leader of al-Qaida's Yemen branch has warned that jihad will become more "intense and harmful" after the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. commandos, SITE monitoring group reported Wednesday.

Nasir al-Wahishi, leader al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said in a statement posted on an Islamist website that the "ember of jihad is brighter" following the May 2 death of bin Laden, the U.S.-based group said.

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Gulf States Welcome Jordan, Morocco Membership Bids

The six Gulf monarchies Tuesday responded to Arab uprisings by agreeing to expand their regional grouping to include pro-Western Jordan and Morocco and urged a quick political deal in Yemen.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) welcomed bids by the two Arab kingdoms to join the six-nation grouping of Gulf monarchies, its secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani said.

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NATO Bombs Rock Tripoli, Libya Rebels Hail Advance

A NATO bombing blitz, which the alliance insisted was not aimed at Moammer Gadhafi, rocked Tripoli on Tuesday, as rebels in besieged Misrata claimed to be pushing back the Libyan strongman's forces.

The United Nations, meanwhile, said the offensive launched by Gadhafi's forces was paralyzing the oil-rich nation and causing the population to suffer widespread shortages of essential goods.

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Syria Tightens Noose on Protest Hubs, EU Sanctions 13 Top Officials

Syrian forces tightened the noose Tuesday on key protest hubs, including flashpoint Banias, sealing off neighborhoods and arresting leaders of the anti-regime dissent movement, activists said.

A pro-regime newspaper said the army had restored "calm" in Banias, while an adviser to President Bashar Assad told The New York Times she believes the regime has ridden out the worst of the uprising.

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Cattle Raid Leaves 82 People Dead in South Sudan

A south Sudan rebel group carried out a cattle raid in Warrap state that left 82 people dead, including women and children, a southern army spokesman said on Tuesday, the latest deadly violence to afflict the nation in waiting.

Militiamen, under the leadership of Philip Bepan, attacked the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in neighboring Unity state on Saturday, SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer told Agence France Presse.

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Mubarak Detention Extended, Tourism Minister Jailed

Egypt's state prosecutor renewed the detention of ousted president Hosni Mubarak amid a probe into corruption and the killing of protesters, as the former tourism minister was jailed for fraud on Tuesday.

Abdel Magid Mahmud "has ordered the preventive detention of former president Hosni Mubarak for 15 days that will begin when his current detention ends" on May 12, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

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Ahmadinejad: Syrian Problem Needs No Foreign Intervention

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that the government of Syria can solve its "problem" without foreign intervention, state television reported on Tuesday.

"The government and the people of Syria have reached a level of maturity to solve their own problem by themselves and there is no need for foreign intervention," Ahmadinejad said at a press conference in Istanbul, which was reported by state television Tuesday.

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MPs File to Quiz Kuwait Premier Over Irregularities

Two opposition MPs on Tuesday filed to question the Kuwaiti premier in parliament over allegations of squandering public funds and financial and administrative irregularities.

The move came just two days after Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmad al-Sabah, a nephew of the ruler, formed his new cabinet which was strongly criticized by opposition lawmakers.

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