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Iraq PM Urges Fallujah to Expel Militants to Avoid Assault

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called Monday for Fallujah residents to expel "terrorists" holding the city to avoid an assault by security forces, as they battled gunmen in nearby Ramadi.

Iraq is preparing a "major attack" to retake Fallujah, which has been outside government control for days, while parts of Anbar provincial capital Ramadi, farther west, are also held by Al-Qaida-linked fighters.

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Turkish Photographer Freed in Syria Returns Home

A Turkish photographer kidnapped while covering the civil war in neighboring Syria has returned home after being freed from weeks in captivity, his newspaper said on Monday.

Bunyamin Aygun, who works for the newspaper Milliyet, was taken hostage by radical Islamists in mid-December during a reporting mission in the war-torn country.

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Saudi Jails 5 for up to 30 Years on Qaida Charges

A Saudi court has jailed five people for up to 30 years on charges including plotting to blow up an oil refinery on behalf of Al-Qaida, state media reported Monday.

The official SPA news agency gave no details of when the alleged plot against the refinery in the Red Sea port of Yanbu took place.

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Syria Opposition re-Elects Jarba as Leader

Syria's main opposition National Coalition re-elected Ahmad Jarba as its leader during a general assembly meeting in Istanbul on Sunday, the coalition said in a statement.

Jarba won 65 votes, beating his only rival Riad Hijab -- the best-known defector from the regime of President Bashar Assad -- by 13 votes.

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Kidnapped Turkish Photographer Freed in Syria

A Turkish photographer kidnapped while covering the civil war in neighboring Syria has been freed, Turkey's state news agency said Sunday.

Bunyamin Aygun, who works for the newspaper Milliyet, was taken hostage by radical Islamists late last year during a reporting mission in the war-torn country.

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Syria's Islamic Front Issues Strong Warning to Qaida-Linked ISIL

Syria's Islamic Front, the country's biggest rebel alliance, issued Sunday a strong warning to jihadists, three days after a new front made up of local insurgents emerged against them.

"We fight against whoever attacks us and whoever pushes us to battle, whether they are Syrian or foreign," said the Front, an alliance that groups tens of thousands of rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad.

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Defected Syria PM 'Could Become Opposition President'

A Syrian former premier who defected from President Bashar Assad's regime in 2012 is a frontrunner to head the main opposition National Coalition, a dissident told Agence France Presse Sunday.

"Riad Hijab and (current coalition chief) Ahmad Jarba are the two candidates for the presidency," coalition member and veteran dissident Samir Nashar said.

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Iran Exiles Call for U.N. Probe into Dissident Deaths in Iraq

An exiled Iranian opposition group on Sunday called for the United Nations to probe the deaths of dozens of Iranian dissidents in Iraq, which it blames on the Tehran-friendly government of Baghdad.

The call came ten days after a rocket attack on Camp Liberty, which houses exiled Iranian dissidents near Baghdad airport, left four dead according to the France-based National Council of Resistance of Iran.

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Iran Says Ready to Help Iraq Battle al-Qaida

Iran's deputy chief of staff General Mohammad Hejazi said Sunday the Islamic republic was prepared to provide military equipment and advice to Iraq to help it battle al-Qaida.

"If the Iraqis ask, we will supply them with equipment and advice, but they have no need of manpower," Hejazi was cited by the official IRNA news agency as saying.

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Spanish Police Arrest Suspected Qaida Syria Militant

Spanish police on Sunday arrested a suspected member of an al-Qaida-linked militant group fighting in Syria, authorities said.

The suspect Abdelwahid Sadik Mohamed, a Spaniard, "is accused of taking part in the 'holy war' in Syria", the interior ministry said in a statement.

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