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Emirates Rejects Delta Apology over Chief's 9/11 Claims

Emirates Airline rejected Thursday an apology by Delta over remarks by the U.S. carrier's chief, in which it said he appeared to suggest a link between Gulf carriers and the September 11 attacks.

"Emirates rejects the apology issued by Delta Air Lines in response to comments made by its CEO... which intimated a link between the Gulf carriers and the 9/11 attacks," the Dubai-based carrier said.

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Riyadh Talks Seek Stronger Iraqi Army, Says Western Source

Military chiefs gathered in the Saudi capital on Thursday sought to bolster the Iraqi army against the jihadist Islamic State group, a Western diplomatic source said.

United States General Lloyd Austin, who heads the U.S.-led war against IS, is among the senior officers attending the two-day talks that opened Wednesday in Riyadh behind closed doors.

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U.N. Urges Syria to Release Activists, Lawyers and Others

The U.N. human rights chief on Thursday urged the Syrian authorities to release all activists, lawyers and other detainees they have been holding without due process, including some jailed for years.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein estimated that between tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people have been held at some point in government jails since the first anti-regime protests erupted in Syria nearly four years ago.

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Britain Urges 'Political Solution' in Libya

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond rejected international military action in Libya on Thursday and said the crisis-hit country needed a political solution.

"We don't believe that military action can solve the problem in Libya," Hammond said at a joint press conference in Algiers with Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra.

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Gulf States Back Qatar in Row with Egypt over Libya

Gulf Arab states threw their support behind Qatar Thursday in a row with Egypt, which accused Doha of backing "terrorism" during heated discussions about Cairo's air strikes on jihadists in Libya.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani said in a statement he "rejects accusations by Egypt's permanent envoy at the Arab League that Qatar supports terrorism".

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Uneasy Alliances as Fractured Iraq Battles IS Group

Shiite Arab militias have flooded into northern Iraq's Kirkuk region to help Kurdish forces battle the Islamic State group, but their uneasy alliance threatens to reignite a much older conflict over the oil-rich area pitting the largely autonomous Kurds against the Arab-led government in Baghdad.

All across Iraq, the rapid advance by the Islamic State extremists over the past year has drawn longtime rivals into reluctant alliances. The shared struggle could with time help Iraqis forge a long-elusive sense of national unity. But it also risks papering over disputes that could burst into the open if the threat subsides.

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Pentagon: U.S. May Train Syrian Rebels to Guide Air Raids

The United States will provide basic military training and equipment to Syrian rebels and may eventually instruct them on how to call in air strikes against Islamic State jihadists, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

But for the moment, the training will focus on fundamentals and not the more complicated task of directing U.S.-led warplanes to a particular target, the skilled job of a forward air controller, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

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Qatar Recalls Ambassador from Egypt over Libya Strikes

Qatar recalled its ambassador to Egypt Thursday following a row over Cairo's air strikes on jihadist targets in Libya, threatening fresh divisions among Western-allied Arab states.

A foreign ministry official said Doha was recalling its envoy for consultation after Egypt's delegate to the Arab League accused Qatar of supporting "terrorism", during discussions on Libya.

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Libya Urges U.N. to Lift Arms Embargo

Libya's foreign minister urged the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to lift an arms embargo to allow the country's military to fight jihadists, amid growing alarm over the threat from the Islamic State group.

Mohammed al-Dairi made the appeal to the 15-member council after Islamic State militants beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, triggering worldwide revulsion and condemnation.

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U.S. Denies Israel in the Dark over Nuclear Talks

The White House on Wednesday denied keeping Israel in the dark over ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, but suggested its ally had cherry-picked information to bolster opposition to the deal.

Amid strains in the U.S.-Israeli relationship over negotiations to reach a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, White House spokesman Josh Earnest rejected suggestions Israel was being frozen out.

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