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Iraq Fills Top Security Posts as Violence Rages

Iraqi lawmakers approved defense and interior ministers on Saturday, filling the key posts after weeks of delay as security forces battle Islamic State jihadists who hold swathes of the country.

The international community hopes the government of Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi will unite divided Iraq, whose forces are struggling to regain ground from the IS group despite U.S.-led air strikes.

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IS Jihadists Execute Man for 'Filming HQ' in Syria

Islamic State group jihadists have executed a man in northern Syria they accused of filming their headquarters and displayed his body on a cross, a monitoring group said on Saturday.

The man was put to death in the Aleppo province town of Al-Bab on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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Dozens Dead in Yemen as Shiite Rebels Fight Sunni Tribes, Qaida

Shiite rebels seeking to expand their territory across Yemen have clashed with Sunni tribesmen and al-Qaida fighters in violence that has left dozens dead, officials said Saturday.

Yemen has been dogged by political instability since an Arab Spring-inspired uprising forced veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh from power in 2012.

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Kurds Thwart New Jihadist Bid to Cut Off Syria Town

Kurdish forces in the Syrian town of Kobane repulsed a new attempt by Islamic State fighters to cut off the border with Turkey Saturday as troops battled the jihadists in neighboring Iraq.

It came as the U.S. military said it had unleashed 25 more air strikes in Syria and Iraq since Friday, hitting Islamic State (IS) jihadists and oil infrastructure they control.

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Frustrating West, Turkey Maintains Cautious Stance against Jihadists

Turkey is turning a deaf ear to insistent pressure to take a more pro-active stance in the fight against Islamic State (IS) jihadists, adding to existing strains with the West under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Western diplomats have repeatedly made clear they want to see the key NATO member play a key role in the coalition against the militants, who are battling for the Syrian town Kobane just a few kilometers from Turkey.

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U.N. Security Council Urges World to Step up Help to Iraq

The U.N. Security Council on Friday urged the world to step up support for the Iraqi government and its security forces in their intensifying battle against Islamist fighters.

In a unanimous statement, the 15-member council condemned the "vicious string of suicide, vehicle-borne and other attacks" in Baghdad and surrounding provinces carried out by the Islamic State organization.

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Relatives of British IS Victims Urge Unity against Hatred

Relatives of two Britons murdered by Islamic State (IS) militants urged people of all faiths to come together to fight the hatred espoused by the group, ahead of a memorial service for one of the men on Saturday.

Family and friends of Scottish aid worker David Haines will gather in a church in his hometown of Perth to remember the 44-year-old, who was kidnapped in Syria last year and beheaded in a video released last month.

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Baghdad Car Bombs Kill 23

Car bombs exploded in three crowded areas of the Iraqi capital Friday, killing at least 23 people, the latest in a string of deadly blasts in the city, officials said.

One car bomb hit Baladiyat in eastern Baghdad, killing at least 13 people, security and medical officials said.

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Turkey Calls for Long 'Humanitarian' Safe Zone in Syria

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday called for a "humanitarian" safe zone to be created in an extensive section of northern Syria to host refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict.

Turkey has called for the area, backed up by a no-fly zone, to protect its borders and provide some protection for refugees fleeing both the Syrian conflict and Islamic State militants who have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria.

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Abbas Urges Palestinians to Protect Al-Aqsa by 'All Means'

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on Friday called on his people to prevent Israeli settlers from entering Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque and use "all means" to protect the site.

His comments came days after Israeli police clashed with Palestinian protesters demonstrating against Jews visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third holiest site but which is also revered by Jews.

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