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Syria Rebels, IS in 'Non-Aggression' Pact near Damascus

Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State have agreed a non-aggression pact for the first time in a suburb of the capital Damascus, a monitoring group said on Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the ceasefire deal was agreed between IS and moderate and Islamist rebels in Hajar al-Aswad, south of the capital.

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Tunisia Police, Protesters Clash after Islamist Arrest

Tunisian police and Islamists protesting against the arrest of a militant have clashed in the southern town of Douz, the interior ministry said on Friday.

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France at Forefront in Iraq in U-Turn after Saddam Era

Eleven years after refusing to follow Britain and the United States into Iraq, France is now trying to take center stage in a country overrun by jihadists with a leading diplomatic -- and possibly military -- role.

Just days before an international conference in Paris on peace and security in Iraq, French President Francois Hollande on Friday visited Baghdad, pledging "support and solidarity" for the country's embattled government.

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Kerry in Ankara Seeking Support for Anti-IS Coalition

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Ankara Friday for talks aimed at building a coalition against Islamic State jihadists, a visit that comes after Turkey said it would not allow its air bases to be used for strikes on the extremists.

The top U.S. diplomat, touring the Middle East to establish a coalition of more than 40 countries, was meeting with Turkey's leaders including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks on measures to defeat the militants in Iraq and Syria. 

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Shaaban Says Syria Must be in Anti-Jihadist Coalition

Syria must be part of the coalition against jihadists because the country is a key victim of "terrorism", an adviser to President Bashar Assad said on Friday.

"Terrorism didn't start in Syria today, it started four years ago" when the uprising against Assad began, Buthaina Shaaban was quoted as saying by state news agency SANA.

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Qaida Suspects Shoot Dead Yemen Intel Officer

Suspected al-Qaida militants shot dead a Yemeni intelligence officer in the restive southern province of Lahij, a security source said on Friday.

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Qatar Says it Mediated Release of Fiji peacekeepers

The Qatari government said it helped to secure the release of 45 Fijian peacekeepers kidnapped by al-Qaida linked Syrian rebels on the Golan Heights last month.

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43 Israeli Soldiers Protest 'Abuses' of Palestinians

Forty-three reservists and former members of an elite Israeli army intelligence unit condemned "abuses" of Palestinians in the occupied territories, in an open letter published on Friday.

The letter, addressed to Israel's prime minister, armed forces chief and head of military intelligence and distributed to media, said information gathered by Unit 8200 was used by civilian intelligence agencies to coerce Palestinians uninvolved in militant activity.

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Regime Air Raids Kill 42 near Syria Capital

Syrian government air raids on a rebel-held area near Damascus killed 42 people, including seven children, a monitoring group said Friday, giving an updated toll.

Thursday's air strikes were carried out in Douma, a satellite suburb northeast of the capital that has been under siege for more than a year.

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CIA: IS has 20,000-31,500 Fighters in Iraq and Syria

Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria now have about 20,000 to 31,500 fighters on the ground, the Central Intelligence Agency said Thursday, much higher than a previous estimate of 10,000.

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