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Syrian Authorities Will Face Up to Armed Groups

The Syrian authorities will face up to armed groups firing indiscriminately on demonstrators and the forces of order, the interior ministry said in a statement released early Saturday.

"We will not allow confusion between peaceful demonstrations and (acts of) sabotage (aimed at) sowing discord, harming national unity and destabilizing the foundations of Syrian policy," said the statement published by the official SANA news agency.

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Two Protesters Shot Dead in Yemen's Taez

Yemeni security forces shot dead two protesters and wounded dozens on Friday in the flashpoint city of Taez south of the capital Sanaa, witnesses said.

One witness said the two protesters were killed by gunfire, and that their bodies were taken to Safwa hospital.

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At Least 40 Killed as Thousands Rally across Syria

At least 22 protesters were killed on Friday as anti-regime demonstrations and clashes with security forces raged around Syria, the head of the National Organization for Human Rights said, while the opposition's mouthpiece Sham News Network put the death toll at 40 in the southern city of Daraa alone.

The state-run hospital in Daraa has received the bodies of 40 protesters who were killed today by security forces, SNN reported.

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Iran Slams Hariri's Position on Islamic Republic: It Doesn't Fall in Lebanon's Interest ... PM's Press Office Hits Back

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast slammed on Friday caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri's recent position on Iran, which he said only serves U.S. and Israel's interests, reported Press TV.

Addressing Hariri, Mehmanparast said that with a proper understanding of the lessons of the popular uprisings in the Arab countries of the Middle East, "[you] should consider the criteria for ruling people as respecting their dignity and independence, as well as avoiding dependence on the West, particularly the U.S. and Zionism."

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Embattled Yemeni President Rejects Gulf Exit Plan

Embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Friday rejected a plan for his exit offered by Gulf States trying to broker an end to bloody protests, in a speech broadcast on state television.

"Our power comes from the power of our great people, not from Qatar, not from anyone else. This is blatant interference in Yemeni affairs," Saleh told a massive crowd of regime supporters in Sanaa.

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Egyptian Protesters Call for Mubarak Trial

Thousands of Egyptians activists marched onto Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square on Friday to demand former regime officials be purged and put on trial, including ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Draped in Egyptian flags, Muslims were joined by Christians as they gathered for weekly prayers in a protest dubbed the "Day of Trial and Cleansing" to press the ruling military council on promised reforms and justice.

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Deadly Clashes at Iran Opposition Camp in Iraq

At least three people were killed Friday when Iraqi forces clashed with an Iranian opposition group, a security official said, but the rebels claimed 25 of its members died in a full military assault.

Major Hassan al-Tamimi of the Iraqi army in Baquba, capital of central Diyala province, said the armed forces clashed with stone-hurling crowds at the Camp Ashraf base of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, or PMOI.

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New Israeli Air Strike Kills Three Civilians in Gaza

Three Palestinian civilians were killed and four more people hurt on Friday in an air raid on south Gaza, medical sources said, in the second deadly strike of the morning.

The latest raid hit a target in Qarara, northeast of Khan Yunis, emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya told Agence France Presse, identifying the victims as Talal Taha, 55, a woman called Najah Qudeih, 45, and her 21-year-old daughter Nidal.

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Key Mubarak Aide Held for Alleged Corruption

Zakariah Azmi, the chief of staff of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, was detained on Thursday for 15 days on suspicion of illegally acquiring his wealth, state television reported.

Azmi, one of the former president's closest aides, is under investigation by an anti-corruption panel that has also summoned Mubarak's younger son Gamal for questioning. Gamal is expected to appear before the panel next week.

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Israeli System Intercepts Gaza Rocket for First Time

Israel's Iron Dome short-range missile defense system shot down a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the first time such an interceptor has been deployed anywhere.

The military confirmed the rocket had been brought down over the southern city of Ashkelon by the unique multi-million-dollar system, which came into operation on March 27, the first time that Iron Dome had hit a rocket in actual combat.

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