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Iraq Asks US for Team to Prepare Troop Pullout

Iraq's caretaker premier Adel Abdel Mahdi has asked the United States to send a delegation to Baghdad to begin preparing for a troop pullout, his office said on Friday.

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Japan's Abe Heading to Middle East to Urge Calm

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the Middle East from Saturday, hoping to ease soaring regional tensions after the US killing of a top Iranian general.

The trip had been thrown into doubt after Tehran responded to the attack on Qasem Soleimani by launching a barrage of missiles at bases hosting American troops in Iraq, prompting fears of an all-out war.

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New Syria Aid Vote Sets Up Clash between Russia, West at UN

The UN Security Council is set to vote Friday on extending cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria, according to diplomats, with Russia pushing for aid reduction and setting up a showdown with the West.

The authorization for the aid, which enters the country without the formal permission of the regime in Damascus, has been in place since 2014 and is set to expire Friday. 

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Air Strike Kills 8 Iraq Paramilitaries in East Syria

An air strike in eastern Syria killed eight fighters of Iraq's Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force overnight, a war monitor said on Friday.

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Israel Releases Man Convicted of Spying for Syria

Israel has announced the release of two prisoners -- one of whom was convicted of spying for Syria -- as part of a swap deal brokered by Russia.

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Libya's Haftar Rejects Ankara, Moscow's Call for Ceasefire

Eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar late Thursday rejected calls for a ceasefire by Turkey and Russia and announced a continuation of his military operations against a U.N.-recognized government.

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Ethiopia and Egypt Fail to Clinch Nile Dam Deal

Ethiopia and Egypt failed to resolve a long-running dispute over a massive dam being built on the Blue Nile River during the latest round of talks this week.

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Saudi Arabia Condemns 'Iranian Violations of Iraqi Sovereignty'

Saudi Arabia condemned Thursday "Iranian violations of Iraqi sovereignty" after Iran fired missiles at Iraq bases where U.S. troops are deployed in retaliation for the killing of a top commander.

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Europe, N. Africa in Diplomatic Flurry to Avoid 'Second Syria' in Libya

Europe and North Africa have launched a diplomatic offensive to try to prevent Libya, with the increased involvement of international players in its conflict, from turning into a "second Syria".

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Haftar's Sirte Seizure Major Blow to Libya Government, Analysts Say

Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar's capture of the strategic city of Sirte on Monday was a major setback for Tripoli's UN-recognised government, analysts say.

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