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Morocco ex-Airport Chief Jailed for Corruption

A court in Morocco on Thursday sentenced to jail the former head of the country's Airport Authority (ODA) and eight others on charges of corruption, their lawyer told Agence France Presse.

"Abdelhanine Benallou, the former head of the ODA, and two of his close assistants were sentenced to five years in prison each, while the others received terms ranging from one to three years in jail," lawyer Salah Foudda said.

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Iran, Syria Bid for U.N. Rights Council under Attack

The United States and Israel on Thursday slammed a bid by Iran and Syria to get seats on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Rosemary DiCarlo, called the campaigns "highly inappropriate" because of their records on human rights.

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Israel Set to Streamline Military Forces, Says Yaalon

Israel's military is set to change to increase its "technological advantage" over other regional armies, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Thursday, while cutting away at costly traditional field forces.

"We are facing a revolutionary multi-year plan, at the end of which, in a few years, we'll see a different IDF (Israel defense forces)," he wrote on his Facebook page.

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U.N. Leader Raises Concerns over Egypt Detentions

U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon on Thursday raised concerns about the detention of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders with the country's foreign minister, a spokesman said.

Ban reaffirmed that there must be no "retribution" against any party after the military coup against Morsi, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters after the telephone talks between the U.N. secretary general and Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamal Amr.

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Russia Attacks West over Syrian Chemical Arms

Russia on Thursday accused Western nations of using "naive" allegations of chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government to block a U.N. investigation into the use of the arms.

Russia's U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin angrily attacked Western members of the U.N. Security Council after it emerged that Moscow had blocked a draft resolution backing an investigation.

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Anger and Uncertainty for Egyptians in Ramadan

The people of Egypt are marking the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan amid soaring tensions following last week's ouster by the military of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

"This year there is not the usual feeling of happiness. We are worried," said Fawziya, as she shopped in a Cairo market.

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U.S. Set to Deliver F-16s to Egypt

The United States is pressing ahead with plans to deliver four F-16 fighters to Egypt despite a military coup against President Mohammed Morsi, a U.S. official said Thursday.

"It's still the status quo," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Agence France Presse.

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Ramadan Brings No Respite to Syria's Homs

An army assault on Homs in central Syria entered its 13th day Thursday, as the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan brought no relief to people in rebel areas, activists said.

"There isn't a minute that goes by that we do not hear the sound of a rocket or a shell hit the besieged (rebel-held) neighborhoods, especially Khaldiyeh and Bab Hud," said Homs-based activist Yazan.

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Report: Saudis Targeting Iran, Israel with Missiles

Saudi Arabia appears to be targeting regional rivals Iran and Israel with ballistic missiles from a previously undisclosed desert base, a British-based defense analysis group said Thursday.

Satellite images show launch pads with some markings pointed towards potential Iranian targets and others towards possible locations in Israel, IHS Jane's Intelligence Review said.

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2nd 'Prisoner X' in Isolation in Israel Prison

A second "Prisoner X" who is being held in top-secret conditions in an Israeli jail has been detained in total isolation for many years, the Israeli media reported on Thursday.

The prisoner, whose identity has not been revealed even to the guards, is locked in a high security cell with no windows in Ayalon prison near Tel Aviv, reports said, adding that he is only allowed a brief walk alone in a courtyard surrounded by a wall.

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