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Ben Ali Denies All Charges on Eve of Trial

Ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, whose trial begins in absentia in Tunis on Monday, denies all charges against him and hopes his country will "overcome chaos," his lawyer said.

Ben Ali "strongly denies all charges they are trying to press as he never possessed the sums of money they claimed to have found in his office," his Beirut-based lawyer Akram Azoury said in a statement released on the eve of the trial.

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Libya Says Toddlers among 9 Dead in NATO Raid on Tripoli

Libyan officials showed reporters five bodies, two of them of toddlers, they said were among nine civilians killed in a "barbaric" NATO air raid Sunday, as pressure mounted on the alliance to allow a political solution.

Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim accused the Western alliance of "deliberately targeting civilians," insisting there were no military targets anywhere near the residential neighborhood of the capital that was hit.

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Britain Urges Citizens to Leave Syria Immediately

Britain urged its nationals on Saturday to leave Syria "now" by commercial means, warning that its embassy in Damascus would unlikely be able to help them if the situation deteriorates further.

"British nationals should leave now by commercial means whilst these are still operating," the Foreign Office said in updated travel advice.

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Protest Called against Moroccan King's Reform Proposals

Morocco's youth-based February 20 Movement called Saturday for nationwide protests against constitutional reforms proposed by King Mohammed VI.

"The national coordinators (of the movement) have called for a demonstration Sunday for a truly democratic constitution and a parliamentary monarchy," a member of the movement's Rabat section told Agence France Presse.

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Clinton Says 'No Going Back' in Syria

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday urged a transition to democracy in Syria, saying in a commentary in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat that the regime crackdown would not quell the momentum for change.

In an English translation provided by the State Department, Clinton wrote under the headline "There Is No Going Back in Syria" that it was "increasingly clear" the crackdown was an irreversible shift in the country's push towards reform.

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U.S. Weighs War Crimes Charges against Syria

The United States is studying whether war crimes charges can be brought against Syria to pressure its regime to end a bloody crackdown on dissent, a senior administration official said Friday.

The official said other measures, including sanctions targeting the country's oil and gas sector, were being considered as part of a broader diplomatic campaign to increase pressure on Syria's President Bashar Assad.

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Bahrain Shiites Hold Another Mass Rally

Thousands of Shiite Bahrainis rallied Friday outside Manama in the second mass demonstration organized by al-Wefaq opposition group since a mid-March crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Demonstrators gathered on the island of Sitra south of Manama for the rally, a week after another protest was held in another Shiite village with the blessings of the authorities, according to al-Wefaq's Facebook page.

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Defiant Gadhafi Vows to Defeat NATO

Hours after loud blasts shook Libya's capital Tripoli, Moammar Gadhafi vowed to defeat NATO as his forces launched a deadly rocket assault on rebel-held Misrata.

State television on Friday aired Gadhafi's comments in what it said was a live telephone call from the Libyan leader, who has gone underground since Western nations began waging an air war in March to protect civilians from a bloody protest crackdown.

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At Least 12 Dead in Syria Protests amid Call for Tougher Sanctions

Syrian security forces killed at least 12 people when they opened fire on protesters on Friday, rights activists said, as France urged tougher EU sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The protests after the main weekly Muslim prayers came as the army pressed its campaign against northern towns and the number of refugees fleeing across the border into Turkey neared 10,000.

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Libya Rebel Chief Denies Talks with Gadhafi Regime

Libyan rebel chief Mahmoud Jibril denied Friday suggestions by a Russian envoy that the insurgents had been negotiating with Moammer Gadhafi's regime.

"I can assure you there is and there was no negotiation between the NTC and the regime," the head of the rebel National Transitional Council told a press conference in Naples.

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