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In U.S., Growing Skepticism over 'No Boots on Ground' War Plan

President Barack Obama faces growing skepticism in Washington over his plan to defeat Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria without U.S. ground troops, with critics blasting the strategy as unrealistic and half-hearted.

Obama's repeated vow that he will not order "boots on the ground" has infuriated Republicans in Congress, who argue that air power alone cannot roll back the IS extremists given the absence of a viable moderate rebel force in Syria and the Iraqi army's poor track record.

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G20 Nations Want Putin at Leaders' Summit

Vladimir Putin is set to attend the G20 leaders' summit in November despite alarm over Russia's actions in Ukraine with host Australia Saturday saying it was the "emphatic" wish of member nations.

There had been question marks over whether Moscow should be invited to the high-powered forum in Brisbane with the brutal five-month conflict that has killed around 3,000 people still unresolved.

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Kerry at the U.N. Builds Support for Anti-IS Coalition

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry brought together 35 countries at the U.N. Security Council on Friday to build support for Iraq's new government and the campaign to confront jihadists.

The crisis triggered by the "Islamic State" group's seizure of large tracts of Iraq and Syria has challenged countries that are often at loggerheads to confront a common enemy.

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Two Iranians Held in Kenya amid Terror Alert

Authorities in Kenya said Friday they have arrested two men believed to be Iranian nationals transiting through the east African nation on fake passports.

A counter-terrorism officer told AFP the pair were detained on Thursday at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, but that it was not yet established if the pair should be treated as terrorism suspects or illegal migrants.

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Report: Contacts Underway to Hold Legislative Session next Week

Efforts are underway between officials from the rival March 8 and 14 camps in order to hold a legislative session next week to tackle pending issues, reported the daily An Nahar on Saturday.

The efforts are focusing on means to resolve the dispute over the new wage scale, as well as issuing Eurobonds and tackling budget-related affairs.

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Report: Salam to Request Security Council to Convene over Arsal

Prime Minister Tammam Salam is expected to urge on Saturday the United Nations Security Council to meet to tackle the latest developments in the northeastern border town of Arsal, reported An Nahar daily.

It said that he was prompted to take the decision in light of the attack against the army in the area on Friday and the escalation of attacks by gunmen in the outskirts of the town.

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Derbas Fears Lebanon Bears Further Burden of Syrian Refugee as Aid Dwindles

Minister of Social Affairs Rashid Derbas voiced apprehension on Saturday that international aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon could dwindle down further after reports showed that it did, an Nahar daily reported.

“International aid to Syrian refugees has dwindled from 53% in 2013 to 40% at present. I fear that it could decrease further,” dreaded Derbas.

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49 Turks Kidnapped by IS Militants Freed, Says PM

Dozens of Turkish nationals held hostage by Islamic State jihadists in northern Iraq for more than three months have been released and brought to Turkey, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday.

"Early in the morning our citizens were handed over to us and we brought them back into our country. At 5:00 am (0200 GMT) they entered the country," Davutoglu told reporters during an official visit to Azerbaijan, adding that all were in good health.

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Kerry at the U.N. Builds Support for Anti-IS Coalition

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry brought together 35 countries at the UN Security Council on Friday to build support for Iraq's new government and the campaign to confront jihadists.

The crisis triggered by the "Islamic State" group's seizure of large tracts of Iraq and Syria has challenged countries that are often at loggerheads to confront a common enemy.

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Ukraine Signs Buffer Zone Deal with Rebels

Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian militias were due Saturday to pull back their troops from a demilitarized zone created under a new peace plan agreed in marathon overnight talks.

A nine-point agreement thrashed out in the early hours of Saturday in the Belarussian capital Minsk also requires the withdrawal of all "mercenaries" from the conflict zone and an immediate end to hostilities.

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