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Assad Names New Governors as Anti-Regime Protests Mount

Syria's under-fire president Sunday appointed two new governors in flashpoint provinces that have seen staunch protests against his regime, as security forces reportedly killed two more civilians.

State television said President Bashar al-Assad named new governors for the northwestern province of Idlib and for the Damascus governorate, both of which have seen massive anti-regime demonstrations over the past seven months.

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Two Spaniards, Italian Kidnapped from Algeria Camp

Suspected Islamist militants kidnapped two Spaniards and an Italian working at a refugee camp in western Algeria early Sunday, officials and security sources said.

A colleague of one of the Spanish hostages said over Spanish radio that "several gunshots were heard" and two people were wounded during the kidnapping from the Rabuni camp near Tindouf, mainly inhabited by Sahrawi refugees from Western Sahara who seek greater autonomy.

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Britain: Libyan NTC 'Stained' by Gadhafi Killing

Britain's new Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said Sunday that the reputation of Libya's new leaders had been "stained" by the killing of ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Hammond said he would like to see an investigation into the death of Gadhafi, who was captured alive during the fall of his hometown Sirte on Thursday.

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Barak: Israel Needs New Rules for Prisoner Swaps

Israel must set new rules governing prisoner exchanges such as the one implemented to secure soldier Gilad Shalit's release, Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday.

"I'm happy about the deal on the exchange for Gilad Shalit, but we must set new rules," he told the free daily newspaper Israel Hayom.

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Polls Open in Tunisia's 1st Post-revolution Elections

Polls opened at 07:00 am (0600 GMT) Sunday in Tunisia's first-ever free elections, nine months after the surprise toppling of strongman Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in a popular revolt, Agence France Presse reporters witnessed.

Some 7.2 million people are eligible to elect a 217-member assembly that will write a new constitution after decades of autocratic government under Ben Ali, whose ousting sparked the Arab Spring.

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11 Killed in Syria as Tehran Ups Pressure on Damascus

Syria's military clampdown on protest hubs, and skirmishes pitting soldiers against armed gunmen, believed to be defectors, killed at least 11 people dead on Saturday, activists said.

Meanwhile, Iran, Syria's key ally, took a tougher stance against the regime of President Bashar Assad, openly condemning its crackdown on dissent that has left more than 3,000 people dead, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations.

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Jordan's Islamists Snub New Government

Jordan's powerful Islamist opposition said on Saturday it would not join the reform-mandated government of prime minister-designate Awn Khasawneh, a decision reflecting its "pessimism."

"The executive offices of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Action Front (IAF) decided, after a joint meeting, to refuse to participate in the government," read a statement on the Brotherhood's website.

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Obama: Saudi Crown Prince was 'Valued Friend' of U.S.

U.S. President Barack Obama offered condolences to Saudi Arabia on Saturday after the death of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, calling him a "valued friend" who helped cement ties between the allies.

"He was a strong supporter of the deep and enduring partnership between our two countries forged almost seven decades ago," Obama said in a statement, adding that he learned of the crown prince's death with "great regret."

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Abbas Says U.N. Statehood Bid to Go On Even with Peace Talks

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said he would push for statehood at the United Nations even if he resumes peace negotiations with Israel, Egyptian state media reported on Saturday.

Abbas, who was in Cairo for meetings with Egypt's leadership, said he would "immediately" resume talks with Israel if it accepted a Middle East Quartet statement from last month, MENA said.

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Egyptian Gets 3 Years Jail for Facebook Islam Insult

An Egyptian court sentenced a man to three years in jail with hard labor on Saturday for insulting Islam in postings on Facebook, the official MENA news agency reported.

The Cairo court found that Ayman Yusef Mansour "intentionally insulted the dignity of the Islamic religion and attacked it with insults and ridicule on Facebook," the agency reported.

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