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UK: Western Public Opinion Becoming Less Sympathetic to Israel

Western nations are losing sympathy for Israel as casualties mount from its military operation in Gaza, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Thursday.

Speaking on his first official visit to the region since taking over as Britain's foreign affairs chief, Hammond insisted however that the cause of the crisis was Hamas militants firing rockets from Gaza into Israel.

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Twin Car Bombs Kill At Least 13 in Central Baghdad

Two suicide car bombs exploded seconds and a few hundred meters (yards) apart in a busy area of central Baghdad Thursday, killing at least 13 people, police and medical sources said.

The blasts went off in Karrada, a district packed with shops and restaurants, shortly after the time when people gather for the iftar meal breaking the dawn-to-dusk fast many Iraqi Muslims observe during the holy month of Ramadan.

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U.S. Congratulates Iraq on Electing New President

The United States on Thursday threw its weight behind the newly elected president of Iraq, Fuad Masum, and urged him to form a "cohesive government" to help fight Islamic militants.

"By taking this crucial step, the Council of Representatives has demonstrated its commitment to uniting the country according to the constitution," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, offering Washington's congratulations on Masum's election.

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IS Jihadists Launch Broad Assault on Syria Army

The jihadist Islamic State group launched multiple attacks on government-held territory across northern and northeastern Syria on Thursday, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was the first time that IS, accused by rival rebel groups of focusing its formidable firepower more on them than on the Damascus regime, had launched such coordinated assaults on army positions.

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Kuwait Opposition Says Revoking of Dissidents Citizenship Illegal

A Kuwaiti opposition group said Thursday the revoking of citizenship of government opponents and licenses of media outlets is "unconstitutional" and described it as an act of "political vengeance."

"These are purely acts of political vengeance which are not based on the constitution, the basics of the law and the norms of the society," said a statement issued by a group of former opposition parliamentarians.

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Reuven Rivlin Sworn in as Israel's 10th President

Far-right hawk Reuven Rivlin was sworn in as Israel's 10th president on Thursday at a formal ceremony in parliament which saw elder statesman Shimon Peres stepping down.

"In prayer, in awe and humility, on your behalf and at your command, I come to faithfully fulfill my role as 10th president of the state of Israel," he said, a skullcap on his head and his left hand resting on a copy of the Old Testament.

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Israel Onslaught Weakens Hamas, But Demilitarization Far Off

As diplomatic efforts to end the Gaza bloodshed gain pace, Israel may have managed to weaken Hamas' firepower, but it is far from achieving a full demilitarization of the Palestinian enclave, experts say.

After 17 days of an unrelenting offensive against Hamas in Gaza, Israel is facing a race against time to complete their stated mission of destroying the tunnels which allow Hamas fighters to reach Israeli territory.

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UK Foreign Secretary Urges Hamas to Accept Humanitarian Truce

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Thursday called on Hamas to accept an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza as the death toll in the 17-day conflict with Israel topped 770.

Hammond spoke at a news conference in Cairo after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose government has pushed for a truce in the neighboring Palestinian enclave.

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Iraqis Protest Christians Persecution at Hands of IS Jihadists

Hundreds of people demonstrated Thursday in Arbil, capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, to condemn the forced displacement of Iraqi Christians and call for their protection.

Muslims, Christians, displaced people and political parties took part in the protest outside U.N. offices in Arbil, some 350 kilometers (220 miles) north of Baghdad.

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Death Threats to Palestinian Mission in France

The Palestinian mission in France said on Thursday that it had received death threats in a letter posted from Israel and claiming to carry a virus.

"We received this letter this morning threatening to kill members of the Palestinian mission in France and those who took part in recent demonstrations for Palestine," Noha Rashmawi, the chief of staff at the mission, told Agence France Presse.

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