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Kuwait Talks to Counter Militants' Online Campaign

Kuwait will host international talks next week aimed at finding ways to undermine the slick online campaign attracting foreign fighters to the ranks of Islamic militants battling in Iraq and Syria.

"The conference will present an opportunity for an in-depth exchange of ideas for increasing cooperation among coalition partners," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday.

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Army Retakes Key Syrian Town from Rebels

The Syrian army on Thursday recaptured the strategic central town of Morek, nine months after it was seized by rebels and their Al-Qaida allies, a monitoring group said.

The army was backed by militias loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the battle for the town in Hama province, the latest in a string of victories they have scored against rebels seeking his ouster.

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IS Propaganda Strategy 'Evolving'

From online videos to the social network postings of their fighters, the propaganda of the Islamic State jihadist group is evolving to prevent the leaking of strategic information while at the same time maintaining its impact.

Experts and journalists say they have observed a change in the group's approach to communications since its offensive on the Syrian town of Kobane and air strikes by a US-led coalition.

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Tunisia Closes Libya Border for Election

Tunisia, fearing possible terrorist attacks, will close its border with politically unstable Libya for three days to coincide with this weekend's parliamentary election, the government said Thursday.

The Ras Jedir and Dehiba border crossings would be closed from Friday through election day Sunday for people travelling from Libya, except for diplomatic missions and in "exceptional and urgent cases," a statement said.

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Palestinians Threaten to Press for Statehood

The Palestinians will launch a diplomatic push in November to gain international recognition for an independent state in spite of Israeli and U.S. warnings, senior negotiator Saeb Erakat said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Erakat dismissed any attempts by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to oppose Palestinian ambitions for statehood.

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Islamic State Militants Now World's Richest

The Islamic State has become the world's wealthiest terror group, generating tens of millions of dollars a month from black market oil sales, ransoms and extortion, officials said Thursday.

It earns $1 million a day alone by selling crude oil from fields captured when the group swept across Iraq and Syria earlier this year, said David Cohen, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

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U.N. Launches $2.2 Billion Appeal for Iraq

The United Nations on Thursday launched a $2.2 billion (1.7 billion euros) appeal to assist 5.2 million people who need protection and assistance in conflict-torn Iraq.

"The needs of the Iraqi people are immense," Neill Wright, the U.N.'s acting humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said in Baghdad.

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Families of Dead French Monks Accuse Algeria of 'Confiscating Evidence'

The families of seven French monks killed in Algeria 18 years ago accused the authorities in the north African country Thursday of "confiscating evidence" about their deaths.

The monks were killed in 1996 after being abducted from the Notre Dame de l'Atlas monastery in Tibhirine, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Algiers, and only their severed heads were ever recovered.

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IS Jihadists Gain Ground in Iraq's Anbar

Islamic State (IS) group jihadists gained ground west of Baghdad Thursday, further reducing the government's already-shaky hold on Anbar province, officials said.

"The Albu Nimr area fell completely into the hand of (IS) members," Ghazi Najras, an Anbar MP, said in reference to the tract on the Euphrates River and east of the town of Heet, which fell last week.

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Sudan's Bashir Calls Opponents to Talks

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday urged opponents to join him in "national dialogue" talks, days after it was announced he would be seeking to extend his 25-year rule.

Bashir, who took power in a 1989 coup, was named the presidential candidate for the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on Tuesday, ahead of a presidential vote due next April.

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