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U.S. Names Two Jihadist Leaders in Syria to Sanctions List

The United States said Thursday it has added two senior leaders of the al-Nusra Front in Syria to its sanctions blacklist.

Although the Treasury Department announcement identified the group as al-Nusra Front, the jihadist force changed its name last year to Fateh al-Sham Front, after supposedly breaking its ties with al-Qaida.

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13 Europe-Bound Migrants Suffocate in Libya Container

The bodies of 13 migrants, including two teenagers, who died of suffocation in a shipping container bound for Europe have been found in Libya and 56 survivors rescued, aid officials said Thursday.

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Putin Says Wants to Stabilize Syria's 'Legitimate' Power

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Moscow's goal in Syria was to "stabilize the legitimate authority" and strike a "decisive blow" against terrorism.

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Israel Shuts Jerusalem School Accused of Hamas Links

Israeli police said on Thursday they had closed a private Palestinian school in annexed east Jerusalem, accusing its officials of belonging to the Islamist movement Hamas.

The Al Nkhba School in the Sur Baher district had already been ordered to close by the Israeli education ministry, a decision ratified by a court.

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U.N. Envoy Urges Syrian Rivals Meeting in Geneva to Take 'Historical' Responsibility

The U.N.'s Syria envoy called on the country's rival sides to accept the "historical" responsibility of seeking to end the six-year conflict, while accepting "miracles" were unlikely at peace talks starting Thursday in Geneva.

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Israeli Warplanes Shoot Down Hamas Drone

Israeli warplanes on Thursday shot down over the Mediterranean a drone controlled by the Gaza Strip's Islamist rulers Hamas, the army said.

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Yemen Loyalists Push Back Rebels on Red Sea Coast

Yemeni government forces made gains around the Red Sea coastal town of Mokha in heavy fighting overnight as they rebuffed a rebel counter-offensive, a military source said on Thursday.

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Turkey-Backed Syria Rebels Announce Capture of Al-Bab from IS

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels said Thursday they had fully captured the town of Al-Bab from the Islamic State group, marking a key defeat for the jihadists after weeks of heavy fighting.

As Ankara said its allies now had "near complete control" of the town, a fresh round of peace talks opened between the Syrian opposition and regime in Geneva.

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Netanyahu Backs Pardon for Israel Soldier who Shot Palestinian

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday backed pardoning a soldier sentenced to 18 months in prison for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian assailant, media reported. 

"I am still in favour of pardoning Private Azaria," Netanyahu told reporters accompanying him on an official visit to Australia, Israel's Channel 10 said. 

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Hundreds Protest Netanyahu in Australia

Several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated in Sydney on Thursday against the first visit to Australia by an Israeli prime minister, branding Benjamin Netanyahu a "war criminal".

A police helicopter hovered over the city as speakers slammed Canberra's strong support of Netanyahu and his government.

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