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U.S. Man Charged with Trying to Join ISIS

A California man who tried to travel to Syria last year has been charged with attempting to join the so-called Islamic state militant group, U.S. prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Adam Dandach, 21 -- also known as Fadi Fadi Dandach -- was charged with trying to provide support to a foreign terrorist group and making a false passport application statement to facilitate terrorism, they said.

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U.S. Warns Tikrit Offensive Must Not Fuel Sectarianism

The United States on Wednesday warned an offensive to retake control of the Iraqi city of Tikrit from Islamic State militants must not fuel sectarian tensions.

"It is important -- and (Iraqi) Prime Minister (Haider al-)Abadi himself has indicated... that this operation should not be used as an excuse or as cover for individuals taking sectarian-motivated retribution," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. 

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Australia, Colombia Police Take Down Drug Syndicate

Australian police Thursday said they had smashed an international criminal syndicate in a joint operation with Colombia, seizing more than 480 kilograms (1,058 pounds) of drugs hidden in lemonade bottles and flower boxes.

"We are cutting the head of the snake off here," said Tim Fitzgerald from the Australian Customs and Border Protection after six men in Sydney were charged. "This syndicate has been dismantled."

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Mexico Captures Zetas Drug Cartel Leader 'Z-42'

Mexican authorities captured Zetas drug cartel leader Omar Trevino on Wednesday, dealing a blow to the feared gang and giving the embattled government a second major arrest in a week.

The suspect, known as "Z-42," was detained without a shot being fired by federal police and soldiers in San Pedro Garza Garcia, an upper-class suburb of the northern industrial city of Monterrey, officials said.

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U.S. Says Iran Nuclear Talks Not a Sign of Warming Ties

The United States ruled out Wednesday any suggestion that talks with Iran over its nuclear program are signs of warming relations between two countries whose diplomatic ties collapsed 35 years ago.

Iran and the so-called P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany -- are trying to strike a deal that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb, a goal it denies having. In return, Iran is seeking an easing of punishing economic sanctions. 

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Kerry Briefs Wary Gulf Ministers after Iran Nuclear Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry briefed wary Gulf ministers Thursday about his latest nuclear talks with Iran, as Washington and its regional allies seek to stabilise a troubled Middle East.

Fresh from three days of negotiations in Switzerland, Kerry gathered at a Riyadh air base with foreign ministers from the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations.

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Dempsey Says U.S. Forces could have Role in Syria in Future

The U.S. military's top officer, General Martin Dempsey, told lawmakers on Wednesday it was possible special operations forces could eventually be sent to Syria to back up American-trained rebels.

But officials said Dempsey's comment was addressing a "hypothetical" scenario for the moment as moderate opposition forces have not yet been trained.

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U.S. Seeks U.N. Action on Syria Chlorine Attacks

The United States is pushing the U.N. Security Council to threaten tough measures against the Syrian regime over its alleged use of chlorine in attacks, according to a draft resolution circulated to members on Wednesday.

The text obtained by Agence France Presse states that the Security Council "decides in the event of future non-compliance... to impose measures under chapter 7" of the U.N. charter, which provides for sanctions and possibly military force.

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LA Homeless Shooting Victim was Cameroonian

A homeless man controversially shot dead by police in Los Angeles was from Cameroon, and had stolen the identity of a Frenchman, U.S. and French officials said Wednesday.

The LA Times had initially identified the victim -- killed Sunday in a shooting caught on a video which went viral -- as Charley Robinet, saying he was French, but the French foreign ministry denied this.

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EU, Cuba in 'Frank' Talks to Normalize Relations

The European Union and Cuba held a third round of "frank" talks Wednesday aimed at normalizing relations, as Havana and Washington work through their own historic rapprochement.

The two-day session in Havana, part of a dialogue that began 11 months ago, is aimed at tackling sensitive human rights issues and finalizing an agreement "on political dialogue and cooperation," meant to turn the page on a decade of estrangement.

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