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Syria Army Seizes Idlib Stronghold, Rebels Kill 22 Soldiers

Syrian military forces have recaptured the northern rebel stronghold of Idlib along the border with Turkey, a major base that army defectors had held for months, a pro-government newspaper reported Tuesday.

Fresh from a month long campaign that drove rebels out of another key base in central Homs, President Bashar Assad's forces launched a siege on the city of Idlib three days ago. The city had been under control of hundreds of fighters for the rebel Free Syrian Army.

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Israel, Islamic Jihad Agree to Egyptian-Brokered Gaza Truce

Israel and militants in Gaza agreed to cease hostilities Tuesday after Egypt brokered a "mutual truce" following four days of bloodletting which left 25 Gazans dead.

Under the agreement, which came into force at 1:00am (2300 GMT on Monday), both Israel and militants from Islamic Jihad, who have been responsible for the lion's share of the rockets lobbed at southern Israel, agreed to hold their fire, an Egyptian intelligence official told Agence France Presse.

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Annan Urges Halt to Syria Killing, U.N. Says Civilians Face Desperate Situation

International mediator Kofi Annan called Monday for an immediate halt to the killing of civilians in Syria as he arrived in Turkey for talks on the crisis.

"The killing of civilians must end now. The world must give a clear message that this is unacceptable," Annan, who is mediating on behalf of the United Nations and Arab League, said in comments carried by Turkey's NTV channel.

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West Steps Up Pleas to Russia and China over Syria

Western nations on Monday stepped up pleas to Russia and China to end their blockage on U.N. Security Council action over the Syrian government's deadly assault on protest cities.

But Russia showed little sign of that it would change it stance, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov slamming "risky recipes" which he said risked increasing conflict in the Middle East.

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Israeli Raids Kill 5 Palestinians as Gaza Fighting Rumbles On

Israeli warplanes pounded the Gaza Strip for a fourth day Monday, killing four more Palestinians, as a teenager died in a mystery blast, raising the death toll so far to 23.

The latest strike killed a man in his 60s and his daughter in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, a medical spokesman said.

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Gaza Flare-Up Stokes Debate about Israel Killings Policy

Israel's assassination of a top Gaza militant, which brought hundreds of rockets raining down on the Jewish state and the danger of further escalation, has left some wondering if its policy of targeted killings is still effective.

Since Friday, when an Israeli air strike killed Zuhair al-Qaisi, head of the Popular Resistance Committees, 23 Palestinians have been killed, most of them militants, prompting armed groups to fire more than 200 rockets at southern Israel, confining a million people to bomb shelters.

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Syrian Opposition Says ex-Defense Minister Tlass in Paris

Syrian regime stalwart and former defense minister Mustafa Tlass has arrived in Paris with one of his sons but they are not defecting, opposition representatives told Agence France Presse on Monday.

Tlass arrived in France from Syria with his wife and his businessman son Firas, the Paris-based opponents said. His other son Manaf, an officer in the Syrian regime's military, is believed still to be in Damascus.

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Syria Accuses Saudi Arabia, Qatar of Backing 'Terrorists'

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are backing "armed terrorist gangs" operating in Syria and so are responsible for the bloodshed in the country, Information Minister Adnan Mahmoud told Agence France Presse on Monday.

"Some of the countries backing armed terrorist gangs, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are accomplices to the terrorism targeting the Syrian people ... and bear responsibility for the bloodletting," he said.

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Jewelry Attack Kills Eight, 13 Others Dead Across Iraq

Gunmen killed eight people in an attack on a jewelry shop on Monday, one of several attacks in and around Baghdad that left at least 13 people dead, most of them police officers, officials said.

The attack on the shop, in the Urr neighborhood of north Baghdad, left eight people dead, the interior ministry said on its website, including the two owners of the shop and four members of the security forces.

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Annan Briefs Top Qatari Officials after Syria Trip

U.N.-Arab League peace envoy on Syria, Kofi Annan, held talks with top Qatari officials on Monday after a weekend trip to Damascus where he urged leaders to end the bloodshed there, the official Qatari news agency reported.

Annan, who arrived in Doha on Sunday, met with the emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to "review the developments in Syria," according to a statement released by the QNA news agency.

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