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IS Claims Suicide Bombing in Iraq's Arbil

The Islamic State jihadist group on Thursday claimed a rare suicide car bombing in the usually secure capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region that killed four people. 

IS boasted in an online statement  that it had "breached all the security checkpoints of the agent Kurdistan government and reached the heart of the city of Arbil."

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Israeli Leaders Decry Mayor's Arab Ban

An Israeli mayor came under government fire on Thursday after ordering a ban on some Arab municipal workers in the wake of Tuesday's deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue.

"We must not generalize about an entire public due to a small and violent minority," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following Ashkelon mayor Itamar Shimoni's announcement barring Arab construction workers from projects in his city's kindergartens.

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Saudi Arabia Beheads Turk for Drug Trafficking

Saudi Arabia on Thursday beheaded a Turkish man convicted of drug trafficking, the interior ministry said, in the latest execution in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom.

Ali Agridas had been convicted of receiving a "large amount of drugs" and was executed in the Saudi capital Riyadh, the ministry said in a statement.

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Tehran Frees Iranian-Canadian 'Blogfather'

Iran has freed an Iranian-Canadian journalist dubbed "the blogfather" who was jailed for 19 years for traveling to Israel, local media reported Thursday.

Hossein Derakhshan was arrested in November 2008 after visiting Israel -- Iran's arch-foe -- with his Canadian passport on what he called a mission to breed understanding between Iranians and Israelis. 

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Palestinian Confesses to Nov. 5 Car Attack on Israeli Troops

A Palestinian has confessed to deliberately running down three Israeli soldiers outside a West Bank refugee camp, which he initially claimed was an accident, police said in a statement on Thursday.

"During interrogation by the Shin Bet (security service), he confessed to running down the soldiers as part of a planned attack," the statement said of the November 5 incident in which the soldiers were injured.

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Egypt Acquits Doctor of Fatal Genital Mutilation of Girl

An Egyptian court acquitted a male doctor Thursday of carrying out a female circumcision that killed a teenager, in the first case brought since the procedure was banned in 2008.

The court also acquitted the 14-year-old's father who took her to the doctor for the operation.

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Syrian Team, Putin to Discuss Relaunching Peace Talks

A high-level Syrian delegation will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Wednesday to discuss possibly relaunching peace talks to end the country's civil war, a senior Syrian official said Thursday.

"President Putin will receive the delegation headed by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, and the meeting will center on the relaunch of negotiations," the official said of the meeting with the key Damascus ally.

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Sisi Says Possible Pardon for Jazeera Reporters 'Under Study'

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Thursday that the possibility of granting presidential pardons to three jailed Al-Jazeera journalists was being considered.

"This issue is under study," Sisi said in an interview with France 24.

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Israel Warns Against 'Bad' Iran Deal as Deadline Looms

Israel's intelligence minister on Thursday pressed world powers not to sign a "bad" deal with Iran, as a deadline nears for an agreement on the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear program.

"Do not sign a bad deal with Iran that enables Iran to remain a threshold nuclear state," Yuval Steinitz told reporters in Jerusalem.

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Bahrain Jails Three Shiites, Strips Them of Nationality

A court jailed three Bahraini Shiites on Thursday and stripped them of their nationality for planning an attack against the police in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, a judicial source said.

The men were jailed for 10 years each for having planned an attack with explosives on policemen in August 2013, the source said.

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