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Kataeb Objects Parliament Term Extension, Rejects Turning Arsal into 'Confrontation Zone' between Syria Rivals

The Kataeb Party on Thursday strongly opposed extending the parliament's term, rejecting also transforming the border region of Arsal into a zone of “confrontation” between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime.

The Kataeb warned again on Thursday of “the repetitive postponement of parliamentary sessions dedicated for electing a new head of state,” the party's political bureau said in a statement after its weekly meeting.

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Russia Asks Bulgaria to Extradite Putin Opponent

Russia has asked Bulgaria to extradite a prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was arrested at Sofia airport, the Bulgarian prosecution announced on Thursday.

Nikolay Koblyakov, founder of the French non-governmental organisation Russie-Liberte which had staged a series of anti-Putin actions in France, was detained on an Interpol warrant at Sofia airport on Tuesday and held for 72 hours, the interior ministry said.

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Sweden Puts Malmstroem Forward to Stay On as EU Commissioner

Sweden on Thursday backed current EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem to stay on for a second mandate in a soon-to-be-named new European Commission -- the second female appointment for a team in desperate need of women.

"It's gratifying to be able to nominate Cecilia," Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told news agency TT upon putting forward his fellow Swedish politician.

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Twenty-Six Confirmed Dead in Turkey Tanker Disaster

Twenty-six people died as a result of a horrific tanker truck explosion in southeast Turkey last week, with the toll rising drastically after more victims passed away at hospitals across the country, media reported Thursday.

A tanker carrying liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) overturned and exploded on a highway near Diyarbakir on July 22, killing one person on the spot.

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Lebanon Honorary Consul in Benin Shot Dead en Route to Togo

The Lebanese honorary consul in Benin was shot dead by gunmen while on his way from the African country's capital Cotonou to neighboring Togo, a statement released by the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry's statement detailed on the incident: “On Wednesday evening, Lebanon's honorary consul in the Republic of Benin Asaad al-Shaghouri was on his way from Cotonou to his house in Togo where he was scheduled to inaugurate a new business venture, a construction material company called La Roche.”

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Azerbaijan Accuses Rights Activist of Spying for Armenia

Azerbaijani authorities said Thursday that prominent human rights activist Leyla Yunus, who has been charged with treason, was collaborating with the spy agencies of arch-enemy Armenia.

"It is established that in 2002 Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif Yunus... had trained the journalist Rauf Mirkadirov in espionage and has since organized several of his trips to Armenia," the Azeri prosecutor general's office said in a statement.

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Military Police Impersonators Abduct Citizen in Bekaa's Talya

Unidentified assailants on Thursday claimed being members of the military police and kidnapped a man in the Bekaa town of Talya, only to release him shortly afterwards.

"Two men kidnapped Nicolas al-Murr after stealing jewelry he was wearing and taking some of his money,” MTV reported, adding that the robbery and the abduction took place inside al-Murr's shop in Talya.

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Exile Group Calls on China to Release Uighur Academic

A Uighur exile group on Thursday demanded the immediate release of an academic charged with separatism in China, saying the decision to prosecute him was political in nature.

"We demand China immediately correct its mistaken methods and release Ilham Tohti," Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) said in an e-mail.

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German General Takes Key Post in U.S. Army Europe

A German army general has for the first time been appointed chief of staff to work with the commander of U.S. ground forces in Europe, both countries' militaries said Thursday.

Brigadier General Markus Laubenthal will serve as "the right-hand man" to Lieutenant General Donald Campbell Jr, who commands more than 37,000 U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) personnel from headquarters in the central city of Wiesbaden, said Germany's defense ministry.

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U.N. Rights Chief Sounds Alarm over U.S. Child Migrant Expulsions

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay on Thursday raised the alarm over Washington's plans to scale up the deportation of illegal child migrants from Central America.

"There are almost 57,000 unaccompanied children in the United States. I'm particularly concerned because the United States appears to be taking steps to deport most of these children," Pillay told reporters.

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