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Israel Restricts Access to Al-Aqsa to Avert Pro-Egypt Revolt Demos

Access to Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound was restricted on Friday in a bid to prevent demonstrations in support of the Egyptian uprising after Muslim prayers, police said.

"This Friday, we are forbidding access to the compound to men under 50 years old carrying an Israeli identity card," Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Agence France Presse.

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Huge Crowds Turn Out for Mubarak 'Departure Day'

Egyptian protesters massed Friday for sweeping "departure day" demonstrations to force President Hosni Mubarak to quit after he said he would like to step down but fears chaos would result.

Tens of thousands filled Cairo's central Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the 11 straight days of protests that have shaken the pillars of Mubarak's three-decade rule, on the Muslim day of rest.

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Human Rights Watch Urges Syria to Respect Right to Protest

Human Rights Watch called for the Syrian authorities on Friday to "respect" the right of its people to protest, amid online calls for large demonstrations.

"Syria’s government should immediately cease its intimidation and harassment of demonstrators expressing solidarity with pro-democracy campaigners in Egypt," the human rights group said in a statement.

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Anti-Mubarak Activists Pour into Tahrir Square

Protesters demanding President Hosni Mubarak's ouster packed Cairo's central square in huge numbers Friday, waving Egyptian flags, singing the national anthem and cheering, appearing undaunted and determined after their camp withstood two days of street battles with regime supporters trying to dislodge them.

Thousands more flowed over bridges across the Nile into Tahrir Square, a sign that they were not intimidated after fending off everything thrown at the protesters by pro-Mubarak attackers — stones, firebombs, fighters on horses and camels and automatic gunfire. The protesters passed through a series of beefed-up checkpoints by the military and the protesters themselves guarding the square.

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Khamenei: Arab Uprisings Sign of 'Islamic Awakening'

A wave of uprisings in Arab countries is a sign of an "Islamic awakening" which was envisaged when the 1979 Iranian revolution took place, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday.

"Today's events in North Africa, Egypt and Tunisia and some other countries have different meanings for us," Khamenei, the commander-in-chief and spiritual guide of Iran, said in a sermon at Tehran university during the Muslim weekly prayers.

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Moussa Says he May Run for Egyptian Presidency

Arab League chief Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, said Friday he might run for his country's presidency but stressed he thought President Hosni Mubarak would remain in power until September.

"I do not think he (Mubarak) will leave. I think he will stay until the end of August," he told France's Europe 1 radio.

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Mubarak: If I Resign Today There Will Be Chaos

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Thursday in an interview with ABC television that he wants to leave office, but fears there will be chaos if he resigns.

The beleaguered Egyptian leader said he was "fed-up with being president and would like to leave office now, but cannot … for fear that the country would sink into chaos," ABC's Christiane Amanpour reported after their 20-minute interview in Cairo.

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Egypt VP Says Mubarak, Son Won't Run for President

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman said on Thursday that neither President Hosni Mubarak nor his son Gamal, who was widely seen as a possible successor, will run in the upcoming presidential elections in September, state media reported.

Earlier Thursday, Suleiman called on security authorities to release detained protesters "not involved in criminal acts," state news agency MENA said.

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Egypt PM Apologizes for Tahrir Square Clashes, Vows Probe

New Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq on Thursday apologized for deadly unrest between supporters and foes of President Hosni Mubarak on Cairo's Tahrir Square, state television reported.

"I offer all my apologies for what happened yesterday and there will be an inquiry," Shafiq told state television as the fighting on Tahrir Square raged for a second day with at least seven people dead.

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WikiLeaks: Iraq PM Says Iran, Syria Armed Fighters

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told U.S. diplomats in 2009 that neighboring Iran and Syria were providing weapons to insurgent groups within Iraq, a leaked document showed Thursday.

Maliki's comments to then-U.S. ambassador to Baghdad Christopher Hill came in the midst of a year-long diplomatic row with Damascus that prompted both Iraq and Syria to withdraw their respective ambassadors, while U.S. officials have long alleged that Iran backs militia groups operating inside Iraq.

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