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Trial of Egypt's Ousted Mubarak Resumes

The trial of Egyptian ex-president Hosni Mubarak reopened Wednesday, state TV said, with new witnesses set to be questioned over the deaths of hundreds of protesters in the revolt that ousted him.

The latest hearing is the fourth in the trial which opened on August 3 and, unlike the first two sessions, the process is being held behind closed doors and off-camera.

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Iran Says Deputy Chief of Kurdish Rebel Group Killed

Iranian forces have killed the deputy commander of Iraq-based Kurdish rebel group PJAK, the Islamic republic's elite Revolutionary Guards said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Majid Kavian, deputy commander of the terrorist (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan) PJAK group, with the alias of Samakou Sarhaldan was killed on Saturday," September 3, the Guards said on its website Sepahnews.

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Turkey PM to Embark on Arab Spring Tour Next Week

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to embark on a tour of Arab Spring countries next week including Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, a government official said.

"The prime minister had already planned a visit to Egypt but negotiations and preparations are under way for this trip to include Tunisia and Libya as well," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Agence France Presse on Wednesday.

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20 Killed as Syria Forces Sweep through Homs

Syrian security forces killed at least 20 people on Wednesday, including 17 in a tank-backed raid on the flashpoint city of Homs, activists said.

The Local Coordination Committees, which organizes the anti-regime protests on the ground, said 17 people were killed in the central city of Homs, one in Hama to the north and two in Sarmin, Idlib province.

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Israel Says No Turkey apology, lifting of Gaza Blockade

Israel will not apologize to Turkey for a deadly May 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla and will not lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip, an Israeli minister insisted on Wednesday, as ties with Ankara sank to new lows.

"Israel defends its interests and its government will not apologize," said Israel Katz, Israel's transport minister and a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party.

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Iran Arrests Five Qaida Militants

Iranian security forces have arrested five al-Qaida members who were trying to smuggle explosives and weapons into the Islamic republic, a provincial police commander said on Tuesday.

"Five people of the terrorist al-Qaida group have been arrested in (the southern) Kerman province," Brigadier General Hossein Chenarian, the provincial commander, was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

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Iraqi Kurdistan President Calls for U.S. Troops to Stay

The president of north Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region called on Tuesday for U.S. forces to stay in Iraq past 2011 to avoid a civil war, accusing Iraqi leaders of hypocrisy on the divisive issue.

"We think that the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq is still needed, and all the political blocs say this during bilateral meetings, but when they stand behind the microphone they say something else," Massud Barzani said during a meeting in Arbil with Kurdistan representatives based abroad.

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Talks Resume for Surrender of Gadhafi Bastion

Libya's new authorities resumed talks on Tuesday with local leaders in Bani Walid, one of the last bastions of Moammar Gadhafi, bidding to end a tense standoff over the oasis town.

Negotiations for the peaceful surrender of Bani Walid, which anti-Gadhafi fighters encircled last week, had collapsed Sunday, and the latest talks were aimed at reassuring Warfalla tribesmen, elders and the local community.

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Syria Postpones Arab League Chief Visit

A planned visit to Damascus Wednesday by Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi in which he had been due to press the bloc's calls for reform has been postponed, diplomatic sources said.

"The visit has been put off to an undetermined date at Syria's request and a new meeting will be arranged soon," one diplomatic source told Agence France Presse on Tuesday.

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Libya Convoy Enters Niger, Gadhafi Not Aboard

A large convoy of civilian and military vehicles from Libya crossed into Niger but officials denied Tuesday that Libya's toppled leader Moammar Gadhafi was aboard.

The convoy entered the Sahelian country late Monday and drove through the city of Agadez, a stronghold of the former Tuareg rebellion Gadhafi once supported, a local military source said on condition of anonymity.

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